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Zurich backs its partnership with Kunming

The people of Zurich said "yes" to Kunming

(Keystone)

The people of Zurich have shown their overwhelming support for the continuation of close ties with the Chinese sister city of Kunming.

The clear-cut result in a popular vote on Sunday in favour of giving Kunming a loan of SFr1.32 million next year surprised many political analysts. A total of 51,902 voters (64 per cent) approved the loan, while 28,716 rejected it.

Two members of the right-wing Swiss People's Party had wanted the loan to be stopped altogether.

Under their sister city agreement of 1982, Zurich has provided funding and know-how to improve Kunming's water resources and treatment, as well as its public transport system.

The improvements in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, have led to delegations visiting the city from all over China.

There had been fears that a "no" vote on Sunday could damage relations with China. A city councillor, Thomas Wagner, said Sunday's results had been "a close shave" and that the potential damage to bilateral relations had been contained.

Zurich's close links with Kunming had come under increasing criticism mainly because of apparent financial and legal irregularities, which were the subject of lengthy debate in the city government and parliament.

swissinfo with agencies

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