Switzerland was one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1950. China is Switzerland’s third most important trading partner, with a free trade agreement that has been in effect since 2014. Since 2018, their senior foreign affairs officials have held an annual strategic dialogue. The Chair of Swiss financial services giant UBS Group has described Swiss businesses as “very pro-China.” Since the launch of their bilateral stock exchange agreement last year, Chinese companies have raised more shares in Zurich than it has in the United States.

But there is also growing friction in the Swiss-Chinese relationship. In its recently released China Strategy, Switzerland called out the PRC’s increasing “authoritarian tendencies,” and cited China’s human rights violations. At the same time, Switzerland’s relations with Taiwan are expanding against Beijing’s wishes. In February, the Swiss parliament sent a delegation to Taiwan, where they were received by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

What’s driving these changes in Swiss-Chinese relations? With its democratic values and open economy, how does Bern reconcile its principle of neutrality with the challenges posed by Beijing?

To discuss evolving ties between Switzerland and China, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Dr. Simona Grano, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project at the University of Zurich. Her latest co-edited book is titled, China-US Competition: Impact on Small and Middle Powers' Strategic Choices.

Episode Highlights:

[01:50] Switzerland’s Policy toward China Today

[03:48] Changes in Swiss-Chinese Relations

[06:03] Switzerland’s 2021 China Strategy

[08:17] Areas of Economic Cooperation

[11:05] Switzerland’s Relationship with Taiwan

[14:45] Switzerland’s One China Policy

[17:32] Contending with Human Rights Issues

[18:55] Huawei’s Presence in Switzerland

[20:56] China’s Influence in Switzerland

[23:42] Forecast of Swiss-Chinese Relations