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China, Switzerland pledge to develop innovative strategic partnership, oppose protectionism

China and Switzerland on Monday pledged to better develop their innovative strategic partnership and jointly oppose trade protectionism. Chinese President Xi Jinping kicked off his four-day visit to Switzerland on Sunday before he is due to attend events including the World Economic Forum in Davos. During talks between Xi and his Swiss counterpart Doris Leuthard, the two countries also agreed to align their respective development strategies and strengthen cooperation in promoting the One Belt and One Road initiative proposed by China. Xi said that China stands ready to discuss cooperation with Switzerland in infrastructure construction, insurance and other areas to jointly promote the initiative. The president proposed that the two countries enhance cooperation and exchanges in a wide range of areas, including politics, trade, finance, digitalization, intelligent manufacturing, industrial capacity, culture and education. The two leaders agreed to strengthen the alignment of “Made in China 2025” and Switzerland’s Industry 4.0 strategies, and push for the upgrading of their bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). The two sides have also agreed to jointly launch a China-Switzerland Year of Tourism in 2017, and enhance cooperation in winter sports by using the opportunity of China hosting the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. China and Switzerland established an “innovative strategic partnership” during then-Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann’s visit to China in 2016, the first such partnership China has had with a foreign country. “China and Switzerland are complementary in their economic structure. Switzerland excels in precision instrument manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing sectors, which is China’s focus in economic growth in the future,” said Zhuang Rui, deputy dean of the Institute of International Economics at Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics. Zhuang told the Global Times as China is seeking to transform its economic model, Swiss-made products can satisfy China’s increasing demand for advanced manufacturing. China is expected to learn from Switzerland on how to improve domestic industries through shifting focus from mass production to quality, she said, and “improvement of technology is also much focused on Chinese enterprises.” The two countries are beefing up efforts to advance economic and trade ties to a new stage through a combination of China’s large market and increasing demands on industrial upgrading with the technological and innovative advantages of Switzerland, noted Liu Jianying, an associate research fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank under the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). Bilateral investment will expand to more sectors in the coming years including bio pharmaceutics, financial services, tourism, machinery, clocks and energy conservation, Liu said.

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