Switzerland summons Chinese ambassador to raise human rights concerns

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland has summoned the Chinese ambassador to express concern about the human rights situation in the western region of Xinjiang, the Foreign Ministry in Bern said on Thursday.

“Switzerland is convinced that the best way to safeguard its interests and respect for fundamental rights is to conduct a critical and constructive dialogue with Beijing,” the ministry said, confirming information from the SDA news agency.

The ministry cited a report released last week by the United Nations human rights commissioner that said China’s “arbitrary and discriminatory detention” of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang could amount to crimes against the country. humanity.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry denied the allegations and called the UN report “completely illegal and void”.

The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Neutral Switzerland has walked a diplomatic tightrope with Beijing, downplaying prospects of Western sanctions on China over its human rights record as Bern pursues a ‘special path’ with a major trading partner .

In unveiling a new strategy on China last year, Bern announced few concrete policy changes and stressed the importance of bilateral relations. But he has spoken more openly about his disapproval of China’s human rights record than he has tended to do in the past.

In 1950, Switzerland was one of the first Western countries to recognize communist China. Since 2010, China has been its largest trading partner in Asia and its third globally after the European Union and the United States.

A bilateral free trade agreement entered into force in July 2014, and the two countries this year launched a common platform for stock listing and trading.