GENEVA, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation between China and Switzerland is based on equal footing and intended for win-win results and can provide a model for bilateral ties for countries that are different in size, social system and level of development, a high-ranking Chinese diplomat has said.
The development of China-Switzerland relations has over the years featured deepening mutual political trust, expanding pragmatic cooperation, increasing people-to-people exchanges, and broadening common interests, Chinese Consul-General in Zurich, Zhao Qinghua, said in an interview with Xinhua recently.
The two sides have seen progress in exchanges and cooperation in various fields and at various levels, yielding enormous results, he said, despite the many changes in their ties.
For instance, while remaining an importer of Swiss products, China is also an exporter of goods bound for Switzerland, Zhao said.
China, a former learner of Switzerland in multilateral affairs and on international rules, is now working together with Switzerland in creating new rules and safeguarding the world order, he said.
"In 2007, Switzerland was among the first European countries to recognize China's market economy status; in 2013, it became the first in continental Europe to sign a free trade agreement with China; and in 2015, it was among the first European members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank," Zhao said.
China is now Switzerland's third largest trading partner, third in exports and sixth for imports, said the Chinese diplomat.
According to Zhao, bilateral trade volume totaled more than 36 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, up from the some 400 million dollars in 1978 when China launched its reform and opening-up policy. During the same period, China's share in Switzerland's foreign trade has increased to 6.6 percent from less than 1 percent.
Over half of Switzerland's famed companies began to operate in China in the 1980s, said Zhao, and the number of Swiss corporate investors in China is now in excess of 1,100.
So far, there are nearly 80 Chinese businesses having invested in Switzerland, in the fields ranging from energy, chemicals, manufacturing, finance to air transport and logistics, he added.
In the interview, Zhao mentioned the relatively few exchanges between China and Switzerland at the subnational level 40 years ago, compared to the current 19 Chinese provinces and cities twinned with their Swiss counterparts.
While reviewing the numerous top-level exchanges over the past five years, the Chinese diplomat added: "The two governments have established more than 20 dialogue and consultation mechanisms."
Zhao said he believed that while China continues to open its door wider to the world, the two countries will begin a new chapter in their relationship based on mutual respect, equality and win-win cooperation.