Switzerland-China: the making of an ideological war

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The day after the publication of the “China Strategy” from the Federal Council, Beijing’s response was scathing: “Switzerland must abandon its ideological prejudices.” The Chinese Ambassador in Bern, Wang shiting, read over an hour of notes in response to questions submitted in advance by Chinese and Swiss journalists invited to a videoconference. “Cold war mentality”, “malice”, “political slander”, “disrespect”, “meddling”, “fake news”, “Chinese threat theory” were some of the terms used to comment on the content. of this document. In the light of the current rhetoric of Chinese diplomats, one could speak of a measured response. It is nonetheless a break in the language of bilateral relations so far described as excellent by both parties.

The document presented by Ignazio Cassis wanted to be factual by establishing an inventory of a rich, complex relationship that has become “ambiguous”. Common interests are emphasized as are differences in values, in a spirit that is both respectful and critical. A balancing act, the result of a very Swiss compromise, which seems successful. Berne suspected that this attempt at clarification would provoke a strong reaction. This way of sweeping aside the analysis of Confederation by reducing it to “ideological prejudices” should not be less appealing to us. Sticking to that disagreement and hoping it dissipates over time would be a mistake.