The West will respond more decisively to China if it continues to move away from the path of openness, according to Switzerland’s foreign minister.
Ignazio Cassis said economic liberalisation had not been matched with political liberalisation and human rights breaches were on the rise, according to Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick.
“We are seeing China stray from the path of openness,” he said. “This means that Switzerland, too, must defend its interests and values more robustly, for example by strengthening international law and the multilateral system.”
In 70 years of relations with China, Switzerland had established a “constructive but critical” relationship with Beijing. “The rule of law and human rights have always been part of our dialogue,” he said.
“Now we realise that the story is more turbulent than we thought. Human rights violations are on the increase. We want to protect these rights.”
Cassis said many Swiss companies which had invested in Hong Kong would be affected if China abandoned the city’s one country, two systems arrangement.
Beijing recently introduced a controversial national security law which radically increases its control over Hong Kong, which was guaranteed certain freedoms and autonomy under the formula in the deal agreed ahead of its 1997 handover from Britain.
“If China abandons the one country, two systems principle in the case of Hong Kong, it also affects many Swiss companies that have invested there,” Cassis said. “If China sticks to its new course, the Western world will react more decisively.”