Date
15 December 2017
Geneva is seen as a bulwark of China's global ambitions as it tries to counter the influence of the United States and Europe. Photo: Xinhua
Geneva is seen as a bulwark of China's global ambitions as it tries to counter the influence of the United States and Europe. Photo: Xinhua

Why China sees more than cheese in Swiss

Who knew that the small Swiss city of Geneva has three Chinese consulates general?

Or that state news agency Xinhua has the biggest bureau there among the world’s international media organizations?

The importance China attaches to this lakeside city of 200,000 reflects its role not only as a center for world diplomacy but as a potential bulwark of Beijing’s global ambitions, according to Kong Hoi-ni, a Hong Kong Economic Journal reporter who joined a recent tour of Switzerland organized by the Journalism Education Foundation.   

China sent the largest delegation for the familiarization visit.

Switzerland, one of the world’s wealthiest countries by per-capita income, is not among China’s top 10 foreign trade partners. Yet, it is served by a full embassy in Bern and a complement of 200 diplomats in Geneva.

The diplomats represent China’s multilateral interests in key world bodies such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization which have headquarters in Geneva.

They’re working to bolster China’s influence in the world to counter the United States and Europe.

Human rights, a topic on which China spends the most resources to deflect international criticism, have kept Chinese diplomats busy.

There’s even talk China will start sending representatives to almost all human rights hearings in Geneva, home to the UN Human Rights Council.

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VW/AC/RA

Freelance journalist

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