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Sino-Swiss – from honing a “special relationship” to balancing new geopolitical complexities

September 2023 | Switzerland has been an early mover in engaging with China. This has paid off economically, with economic integration growing rapidly in recent years and China becoming the third-largest trading partner – also thanks to the China-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that entered into force in mid-2014.

In response to the changing domestic and external political context, however, the Federal Council, the Swiss government’s highest executive branch, issued its first-ever China Strategy in March 2021, recognizing China as a new global power with geopolitical heft and ambitions, pointing out differences in values and unfulfilled hopes of China’s political system converging with liberal democracies, and more explicitly than before addressing a series of domestic issues in China – and thus indicating that just nurturing a “special” bilateral relationship was no longer an option for Switzerland going forward. China shall, however, remain a “priority country”.

Where does this leave Sino-Swiss relations in the post-Covid world? And what implications does such a more value-based Swiss foreign policy have for bilateral relations with China, and in turn for Swiss business engaged in China? And: what is China’s policy towards Switzerland?

Check out our CMG Primer Sino-Swiss - from honing a "special relationship" to balancing new geopolitical complexities


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