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Sino-Swiss innovative collaboration a successful model in a weak global economy


Alwihda Info | Par peoplesdaily - 16 Janvier 2017

A specific task of Xi's visit is to further implement and promote China-Switzerland innovative strategic partnership with goals such as upgrading the bilateral free trade agreement, breaking new ground on collaboration in the fields of energy, finance and tourism. Other European nations may feel regretful about it in the near future - when they will have to face more uncertainties in 2017 like Brexit negotiations and the French presidential election. China and Switzerland are going forward steadily on a clear path with few significant issues.


By Cui Hongjian Source: People's Daily and Global Times

In an article titled "A Shared Commitment to Practical Cooperation and Peaceful Development," which is written by Chinese President Xi Jinping for Neue Zurcher Zeitung of Switzerland before his very first overseas trip this year from Sunday to Wednesday, he said "In a complex and fast-changing world beset by weak economic recovery, China and Switzerland need to work together to deepen the innovative strategic partnership across the board." Innovative cooperation is the theme of Xi's tour this time. Not only that, the rapid development of the bilateral relationship is also an achievement of cooperative collaboration between the two sides.

China and Switzerland are so different in their stage of development, size, industrial structure, history, culture and system. In light of the old saying "birds of a feather flock together," it could be hard for Beijing and Bern to carry out in-depth and substantial joint projects. However, the two have successfully initiated a number of pragmatic cooperation in political, economic and diplomatic fields amid all the differences, becoming a model of innovative collaboration and making their "innovative strategic partnership" worthy of the name.

Similar judgment on the current international situation as well as their common interests is what has been pushing the two to the front line of innovation. So far, the sluggish global economy is derived from a slow-down in technological innovation, which leads to a lack of economic growth. More importantly, this trend comes from some nations' fear of globalization. They refuse to cooperate due to worries over the loss of their economic and technological advantages, or the fear of being economically controlled by other civilizations. Worry is often the first response toward new ideas. But innovative cooperation between China and Switzerland showed that numerous opportunities would be lost if we constantly turn our backs on change and innovation because of such worries. After Switzerland became one of the first countries to recognize China as a full market economy and the first country on the European continent to sign a free trade agreement with Beijing, Bern did not lose its competitiveness, nor did its market drown in Chinese products. On the contrary, the volume of Sino-Swiss trade and investment has been rising while the two keep exploring new cooperative fields. Both sides come out as the winner of this new type of teamwork.

The joint pursuit of innovative spirit is what made the two easily get along in innovative collaboration. Switzerland is known for its innovative capacity. Given its citizens' pursuance in craftsman's spirit, the nation is home to a series of world-class brands such as precision machinery, clocks and watches. Striving for perfection is also highly praised in Chinese history and culture. Moreover, innovation is prioritized in the first place in China's 13th Five-Year Plan in order to create a favorable environment to boost craftsman's spirit.

How to promote one's competitiveness to safeguard its status in the world economy has been a heated topic in Europe lately. Different answers to it can be heard, including protectionism. Since the Cold War has long gone and the globe has been enjoying the benefits of integration for quite some time, European nations have gradually lost their impetus for innovation. This is the root cause of Europe's declining competitive edge. Nonetheless, protectionism obviously cannot resolve the problem. Therefore, much can be learned from the Sino-Swiss innovative cooperation, including being open to each other, learning and drawing on the experiences of one another on the basis of pursuing common interests.

A specific task of Xi's visit is to further implement and promote China-Switzerland innovative strategic partnership with goals such as upgrading the bilateral free trade agreement, breaking new ground on collaboration in the fields of energy, finance and tourism. Other European nations may feel regretful about it in the near future - when they will have to face more uncertainties in 2017 like Brexit negotiations and the French presidential election. China and Switzerland are going forward steadily on a clear path with few significant issues.

Of course, as long as other countries in Europe can change their mindset and abandon protectionism, joining in the innovative cooperation with China will not be hard. After all, there is already a certain level of common sense in innovative joint work between China and European economies.

(The author is director of the Department of European Studies, China Institute of International Studies.)


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