China and Switzerland have enjoyed a longstanding win-win partnership and China has an optmisstic economic outlook, the Swiss minister of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Johann Schneider-Ammann said Wednesday.[Special coverage]
"I am very proud that Chinese President Xi Jinping could come to my country and stay four days," Schneider-Ammann said in an interview with Xinhua at the World Economic Forum. "In April last year we established such good personal relationships, and I'm proud of this success."
Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Switzerland from Jan. 15 to 18, nine months after then-President Johann Schneider-Ammann's state visit to China in April 2016, during which the two countries established an innovative strategic partnership.
Noting that more than 20 dialogue and consultation mechanisms are running smoothly, he noted that the partnership had been reconfirmed during President Xi's visit to Davos Tuesday, with the signing of several memoranda of understanding on different topics, in order to develop the agreement further.
Schneider-Ammann, a businessman formerly in the mechanical engineering sector, was one of the architects of the China-Switzerland "innovative strategic partnership," China's first and the only strategic partnership named after "innovation."
"Everything goes through innovation and goes through proved competitiveness," he explained.
As a proponent of free trade, the federal councilor has been a strong supporter of the China-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement that has been in effect since 2014.
"The free trade agreement was a success from the very beginning," Schneider-Amman commented. "In the first year of the trade agreement we achieved a growth in mutual trade of about 3 percent plus, which is more or less a doubling of what we achieved globally in the same period of time."
In the economic and trade sector, trade volume between the two countries reached 44.27 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, marking a 1.7-percent growth compared to that in 2014. China has become Switzerland's biggest trading partner in Asia while Switzerland is also China's major trading partner in Europe.
"That's why we fight for open markets, it's a win-win situation," he stressed.
The Swiss government has maintained traditional friendship with China over the past six decades since the two established the diplomatic relations in 1950, the minister recalled.
Switzerland was one of the first Western countries to establish formal ties with China and the first country to set up an industrial joint venture in China in 1980.
It was also among the first European countries to recognize China's market economy status, to sign a free trade agreement with China, and to apply for membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a China-initiated multilateral bank.
The minister said his respect for the long partnership between the two countries - a model of peaceful co-existence and win-win cooperation between big and small countries with different social systems and at different development phases - stood high. Between both countries, "the goals are the same."
The former president said his admiration for China also comes from a respect for the Chinese people themselves. "The Chinese are so smart: they do the job," Schneider-Ammann said.
Closely following China's development nearly 30 years, Schneider-Ammann said he remains "optimistic about the future of the Chinese economy."
Commenting on the historic speech delivered by Xi on Tuesday, the first Chinese president to address the World Economic Forum in Davos, Schneider-Ammann noted he was very impressed.
"That was a true statesperson representing the People's Republic of China and more," the Swiss politician insisted. "Xi Jinping mentioned yesterday that the open market policy needs to be continued. That was a very clear statement and I was very happy about it."