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China and Switzerland to deepen innovative partnership during President Xi's visit

By AN BAIJIE | | Updated: 2017-01-12 15:52

President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Switzerland is expected to deepen the two countries' bilateral strategic innovative partnership, which is unique among diplomatic practices, said a senior Swiss diplomat.

Alain Gaschen, minister and deputy head of mission at the Swiss embassy to China, said that the priority of China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) is innovation and creating an economy that is more sustainable, and Switzerland has a lot to offer on that issue.

"Switzerland products are competitive because of innovation and high quality. If we deepen the free trade agreement, we will have companies with high technology, with much added value that can contribute to China high-end economy," he told China Daily during an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

"Switzerland is year after year the most innovative country in the world, so it does make sense for China and Switzerland to team up on that," he said, adding that innovation is at the core of the two countries' relationship.

President Xi will pay a state visit to Switzerland from Jan 15-18, attending activities including the 47th World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Jan 10.

The two countries established an innovative strategic partnership during then-Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann's state visit to China in April 2016, the first China has ever developed with a foreign country.

During the meeting, Switzerland also became an observer country in the partnership between China and 16 Central and East European countries.

Switzerland is willing to share its innovative experiences, especially on its excellent manufacturing in industries such as watches, with China, said Gaschen, the embassy's minister.

"We already have more than 20 dialogues in many areas from environment, labor and human rights to other topics including intellectual property, finance, migration, you can name it," he said.

Switzerland was among the first Western countries to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and among the first group of European countries to recognize China's market economy status. The first industrial joint venture China entered into was also with Switzerland.

In December 2016, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Switzerland that the two countries should effectively implement the innovative strategic partnership, and both sides could carry out innovation cooperation to inject new imputes into world economic growth.

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