The leaders of Switzerland and China have been spending a lot of time together. And the countries have a history of warm relations. In fact hardly a month passes without a Chinese delegation visiting Switzerland reports swissinfo.ch. Switzerland is one of the freest countries in the world, and a hub of innovation. In many ways it is the opposite of China. But by focusing on the mutually beneficial aspects of trade, the two countries have developed a respectful relationship.
In April 2016, Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, who held the rotating Swiss presidency last year, traveled to Beijing. Less than 12 months later, China’s president Xi Jinping arrives in Bern on Sunday. Such a return visit at the top level is unusual.
“It’s a clear sign of the importance that China attaches to Switzerland,” says Johannes Matyassy, head of the Asia-Pacific region at the Swiss foreign ministry.
Switzerland was one of the first Western countries that sought contact with China.
“Compared with other Western countries, Swiss-Chinese relations are pioneering,” Matyassy tells swissinfo.ch.
Bern recognised the People’s Republic of China in 1950 – just one year after its creation. Switzerland was also early to recognise China as a market economy in 2007.
In 2013, Switzerland became the first continental European country to sign a free-trade agreement with Beijing, and in 2016 Switzerland was one of the first countries in Europe to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
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