Switzerland-China relations have withstood the test of time and will be further boosted in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era, Swiss Ambassador to China Bernardino Regazzoni told Xinhua.
Monday marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Switzerland. In 1950, Switzerland was one of the first Western countries to recognize then newly founded People’s Republic of China. The two countries have enjoyed long-term exchanges and cooperation ever since, with remarkable results.
“Seventy years ago, it was an entirely different world, and the 70 years of diplomatic relations have been consolidated by great achievement,” Regazzoni said in an interview with Xinhua.
In 2007, Switzerland was among the first European countries to recognize China’s market economy status; in 2013, it became the first continental European country to sign a free trade agreement with China; and in 2015, it became one of the first European members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Openness has not only been key to China’s economic success over the past four decades, but has also played a decisive role in pushing forward China-Switzerland ties, said Regazzoni, adding that openness should be reinforced in the two countries’ future economic interactions.
The bilateral trade volume totaled more than 31.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, up from some 6 million dollars when China and Switzerland established diplomatic relations. China is now Switzerland’s third-largest trading partner, third for exports and sixth for imports.
“Swiss companies are not just looking for cheap labor forces as they could have done in the past, rather, they are making top-level research in China and for China,” Regazzoni said.
The innovative strategic partnership between the two countries, established in 2016, is the first of its kind between China and a foreign country.
In the Global Innovation Index released by the World Intellectual Property Organization, Switzerland ranked first for 10 consecutive years. The index also showed that China has established itself as an innovation leader as the only middle-income economy in the top 30 for many years.
Innovation, which means “having good ideas and creating value out of them,” is a key issue for both China and Switzerland, Regazzoni said, stressing that a competitive environment, an educational system with a broad basis for all, and the mobility of talented people are key to his country’s innovativeness.
The Swiss ambassador expressed his hope that exchanges between people will be resumed as soon as possible, so as to facilitate business exchanges and innovation cooperation.
This year, the Chinese people will achieve the goals of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation, marking the first time for China to eliminate absolute poverty in its history.
“I am really impressed by the success China has achieved in the fight against poverty, which is unique in the history of mankind,” Regazzoni said.
Talking about the realization of the sustainable development goals in the UN framework, the Swiss ambassador emphasized that there are still challenges ahead for the international community.
“At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging the resilience of our society, while environmental problems will be even more threatening in the future,” said Regazzoni, calling for more attention to sustainable development and more efforts in environmental protection and emission reduction.