Chinese President Xi Jinping kicked off his state visit to Switzerland on Sunday, the European nation hosted the Chinese guest of honor by presenting him with a full set of hospitality, a proof of Bern’s high expectations for the trip and how much importance it attaches to bilateral ties.
At a ceremony held at the Federal Palace in the historical Old Town of Bern by the seven members of the Swiss Federal Council, Xi said he is looking forward to consolidating friendship and boosting cooperation between China and Switzerland.
“My visit is aimed at consolidating our friendship, boosting our cooperation and promoting peace and development together with the Swiss side,” he said.
“I am looking forward to having talks with the Swiss side on deepening our pragmatic cooperation in various areas and enriching the meaning of our innovative strategic partnership,” Xi added.
During the trip, the president is also scheduled to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the ski resort of Davos, and visit the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee.
Xi is going to deliver a keynote speech at the Davos meeting on Monday and another one at the UNOG the day after. Xi will be the first Chinese head of state to attend the WEF.
“I hope to, through attending the WEF annual meeting and visiting the international organizations, gather consensus with all sides on maintaining world peace, promoting common development and settling major global issues under the current situation, thus delivering positive energies to the international community,” the president said.
At the welcome ceremony, Swiss President Doris Leuthard said her country is a trustworthy partner for China.
She also said the Swiss side is willing to discuss cooperation with China in promoting the Belt and Road Initiative and strengthening communication and coordination within the UN and other multilateral organizations.
The Swiss leader also extended festival greetings to Xi and the Chinese people on the upcoming traditional Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, which falls on Jan. 28 this year.
The two heads of state are expected to hold official talks on Monday.
Earlier on Sunday when the Chinese president’s plane touched down at the Zurich airport, Leuthard, along with her husband Roland Hausin, held a red-carpet welcome ceremony for Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan.
In a written speech upon arrival, the Chinese president briefly reviewed the friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two sides since they established diplomatic ties 67 years ago.
“I hope that, through my visit, we can deepen the traditional friendship between our two peoples, expand our practical cooperation in various areas, enrich the meaning of our innovative strategic partnership, push the bilateral ties to a new high, and jointly make positive contributions to promoting world economic recovery,” he said.
Accompanied by Leuthard, Xi traveled to Bern by a special train of the Swiss government. The two leaders had a brief talk while enjoying tea on the way to the capital.
While on the train, Xi hailed the China-Switzerland partnership as a paradigm of relations between countries of different sizes.
The Chinese leader also appreciated the years of commitment by Leuthard to deepening bilateral cooperation in all areas.
“During this visit, I would like to engage in in-depth talks with President Leuthard and other Swiss leaders, enrich our partnership, and boost our cooperation in all areas,” Xi said.
He added that China, sharing similar views with Switzerland on many international issues, wants to join the European nation to enhance their coordination in international affairs.
Noting that China encourages more and more Chinese tourists to travel to Switzerland, Xi said China, which is to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, stands ready to promote cooperation with Switzerland on developing winter sports.
For her part, Leuthard thanked Xi for choosing her country as the destination of his first state visit in 2017, saying the decision reflects the importance China attaches to Switzerland.
Switzerland stands ready to push forward cooperation with China in various fields, said Leuthard.
China is an influential country in the world, said Leuthard, adding that the international community looks forward to hearing Xi’s exposition of China’s policies at the WEF as the world is facing many uncertainties right now.
During the chat, the two leaders also exchanged views on such issues as the Belt and Road Initiative and green development. They agreed to further boost the two countries’ cooperation in science and technology, innovation, connectivity, infrastructure construction, clean energy and regional-level exchanges.
China and Switzerland have enjoyed long-term exchanges and cooperation. In 1950, Switzerland became one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic relations with the newly-founded People’s Republic of China. At the start of this century, Switzerland was among the first European countries to recognize China’s full market economy status.
In recent years, Switzerland became the first continental European country to conclude and implement a free trade agreement with China.