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Swiss leader looks to Beijing

2013-05-23 09:00 China Daily     Web Editor: Sun Tian comment

A prosperous, stable and peaceful China is important to Switzerland and the world, according to President of the Swiss Confederation Ueli Maurer.

His comments come ahead of official visits by Premier Li Keqiang to Switzerland and Germany, his first trip to Europe as premier.

"We feel honored being the first European country to be visited by the new premier. The economic and political, as well as cultural relationship, with China is, for us, very important and valuable, and we wish to expand and deepen this relationship," Maurer said in a written reply to China Daily.

He feels the current state of Sino-Swiss relations is excellent, as the two countries have developed cooperation in many fields.

"We have regular exchanges on science and education, the environment, energy, human rights and the rule of law, international security, migration, and, of course, in the economic sector, including intellectual property, to name just some," he said.

China is Switzerland's first economic partner in Asia.

In 2012, trade between the two countries reached $26.3 billion, with China's imports from Switzerland totaling $22.8 billion and accounting for 87 percent of the total volume.

Official Swiss figures show the country's foreign direct investment in China reached 8 billion Swiss francs ($8.25 billion) in 2010 and more than 12.5 billion Swiss francs in 2011.

About 400 Swiss companies with more than 900 branches are based in China, while some 65 Chinese companies operate in Switzerland.

Maurer added, "Exchanges are particularly intense in the economic field and will further grow with the free trade agreement."

Jiang Yaoping, vice-minister of commerce, said on May 16 that after a series of high-level talks the two countries are poised to seal such an agreement.

Switzerland was one of the first countries to recognize China's market economy status and to initiate free trade agreement talks with it.

Maurer said the agreement will bring significant improvements for both countries.

"The implementation of such an agreement will certainly further boost our bilateral trade and investments," he said."It creates a win-win situation ... because the two economies are largely complementary."

Besides prosperous economic exchanges, more and more Chinese and Swiss people are visiting each other's country.

"China is a world power, which also leads to more cooperation on the multilateral stage — for example, in the framework of international conferences and organizations," Maurer said.

Switzerland and China "see many international issues in similar terms" Maurer said. "We are on the right path — on a path that is good for both sides," he said.

"From our point of view, the job ahead is to continue with all speed and energy and to work together to overcome, in a spirit of partnership and shared interests, any obstacles that we may discover."

Professor Didier Cossin, director of the IMD Global Board Center in Switzerland, told China Daily Sino-Swiss relations are historic, strong and positive.

Cossin said Premier Li's visit will show the face of a powerful China as a peace- building, wealth-building nation.

"The China Dream is a dream for a better world, and not only a better China. The China Dream is a dream to inspire all around the world," he said.

Switzerland may bring some inspiration for the China Dream, Cossin said. As a small, diverse country, it managed to emerge from poverty, and sustain a peaceful, environmentally-friendly society that respects others and supports the well-being of its people and others around the world, he said.

"For future success, China will need a more global financial industry, better innovation internally, to be environmentally friendly and have peaceful development," Cossin said.

 Premier Li Keqiang's First Overseas Trip

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