China’s handling of the Hong Kong protests and treatment of minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang were discussed during an official visit of Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Switzerland.
Wang was received by Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis at the Swiss capital on Tuesday. The Chinese foreign minister also met Swiss President Ueli Maurer. According to a government statement, Cassis discussed the current situation in Hong Kong and relayed Swiss concerns about minorities, particularly those in Tibet and in Xinjiang.
“Bilateral discussions on human rights issues and multilateral initiatives are complementary instruments,” said Cassis.
Economic ties was the other major subject of discussions. Cassis welcomed China’s recent announcement to remove certain restrictions on foreign ownership of companies and create a more level playing field for foreign firms.
“In this context, an update of the free trade agreement and access to the financial market are very important for Swiss companies,” said a government statement.
China is Switzerland's third largest trading partner after the EU and the US, with an annual trade volume of CHF44 billion ($44.5 billion) in 2018. Cassis and Wang also discussed the Belt and Road Initiative that aims to build transport infrastructure in countries along the ancient Silk Route. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in third markets was signed in April this year to strengthen cooperation in this project. Cassis stressed that the Belt and Road Initiative projects must meet social and environmental quality standards.