The Minister of Foreign Affairs believes that “Switzerland must defend its interests and values in a more robust manner” against Beijing.
Relations between Bern and Beijing are currently being put to the test, believes Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis. “We see that China is moving away from the path of opening up,” he adds in the “SonntagsBlick”.
“In 70 years of relations with China, we have succeeded in establishing a constructive, but critical relationship,” said the Federal Councilor in an interview broadcast on Sunday by the German-speaking newspaper. The rule of law and fundamental rights have always been part of the dialogue between the two countries, he adds.
“First of all, we established economic relations [avec la Chine, ndlr], then we talked about human rights, ”notes the Ticinese liberal-radical. But China has changed, which is why “Switzerland must defend its interests and values in a more robust manner, for example by strengthening international law and the multilateral system”.
Affected companies in Hong Kong
Switzerland, he continues, thought “to emancipate a little from Europe” thanks to the free trade agreement which entered into force in 2014 with China, but “the story is more turbulent than expected”. “Human rights violations are on the increase” in China, remarks Ignazio Cassis. “If China abandons the ‘one country, two systems’ principle with Hong Kong, it will affect many Swiss companies that have invested there.”
The head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs believes that Switzerland cannot afford an unregulated relationship with the European Union (EU) in such an uncertain and complicated world. Not only does it have first-rate economic exchanges with the EU, but it also shares important common core values, he says.
Should the UDC’s restraint initiative be rejected on September 27, Berne will make proposals in Brussels before the end of the year with a view to resolving the issues in the framework agreement, the Ticino said.