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China abandoning path to openness, says Switzerland

China is moving away from the path of openness and the West will respond more decisively if it continues to do so, Switzerland’s foreign minister told a Sunday newspaper.

Economic liberalisation has not been matched with political liberalisation and human rights breaches are on the rise, Ignazio Cassis told SonntagsBlick.

“We are seeing China stray from the path of openness,” he told the weekly.

“This means that Switzerland, too, must defend its interests and values more robustly, for example by strengthening international law and the multilateral system.”

Cassis said that in 70 years of relations with China, Switzerland had established a “constructive but critical” relationship with Beijing.

“The rule of law and human rights have always been part of our dialogue,” he said.

Cassis added: “Now we realise that the story is more turbulent than we thought. Human rights violations are on the increase. We want to protect these rights.”

Beijing’s controversial new national security law radically increases its control over Hong Kong.

The city is supposedly guaranteed certain freedoms and autonomy in a “One Country, Two Systems” deal agreed ahead of its 1997 handover from Britain.

“If China abandons the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle in the case of Hong Kong, it also affects many Swiss companies that have invested there,” said Cassis.

“If China sticks to its new course, the Western world will react more decisively.”