In­no­va­tion key to re­la­tions

China Daily (USA) - - 19th CPC NATIONAL CONGRESS - By ZHANG YUE zhangyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Jean-Jac­ques de Dardel, the Swiss am­bas­sador to China, be­lieves that in the past five years China has ad­vanced its ef­forts in global gov­er­nance and is now start­ing to of­fer its own in­put.

He sees China as an ac­tive ac­tor on all stages that is tak­ing a lead­ing role in some ar­eas of mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion, most no­tably by es­tab­lish­ing the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank, propos­ing the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, and host­ing the BRICS Sum­mit last month.

De Dardel first vis­ited China in 1986, and has re­turned many times, giv­ing him ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of the coun­try when he as­sumed his cur­rent role in early 2014.

“I started to get to know China at a time when the coun­try was still rather re­served in its in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions,” he said. “But in re­cent years, China has taken a more ac­tive, more vis­i­ble role to the point that it aims to be one of the global lead­ers.

“Switzer­land wel­comes a more ac­tive role by China as a de­fender of free trade and in the field of cli­mate change.”

De Dardel sees this com­mit­ment to free trade and cli­mate change as a good di­rec­tion for China to take.

Bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are at the core of his en­gage­ment. More de­vel­oped Sino-Swiss re­la­tions are what he hopes for and what mo­ti­vates him to work hard every day, he said. “We have a lot to gain and learn from each other, es­pe­cially in terms of in­no­va­tion.”

De Dardel be­lieves China is catch­ing up with the rest of the world in terms of in­no­va­tion ca­pac­ity, cit­ing its rank­ing in the Global In­no­va­tion In­dex is­sued by INSEAD Busi­ness School.

China surged from 43rd place in 2010 to 22nd place this year. Switzer­land has been ranked No 1 since 2010.

“The catch-up is fan­tas­tic. The evo­lu­tion is ex­tra­or­di­nary, be­cause you now carry greater weight in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions. This is not mu­sic to my ears, this is a sym­phony,” he said.

Speak­ing about his first trip to China, the am­bas­sador said his ex­ten­sive trav­els left him with a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion.

“The most mes­mer­iz­ing part was that peo­ple had the same hu­mor as me; even if we could not com­mu­ni­cate us­ing lan­guage,” he said.

An econ­o­mist by train­ing, De Dardel is aware of how China has worked to achieve its eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and im­prove its in­no­va­tion ca­pac­ity.

“In­no­va­tion will not be limited to sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, but will ex­tend to the econ­omy,” he said. “China has be­come a con­sumer-led econ­omy rather than one that re­lies on in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion.”

De­spite China’s progress, he ac­knowl­edges there are chal­lenges ahead; one of the big­gest be­ing how to han­dle the waves of mas­sive trans­for­ma­tion

“IN­NO­VA­TION WILL NOT BE LIMITED TO SCI­ENCE AND TECH­NOL­OGY, BUT WILL EX­TEND TO THE ECON­OMY. CHINA HAS BE­COME A CON­SUMER-LED ECON­OMY.”

Jean-Jac­ques de Dardel,

Swiss am­bas­sador to China prop­erly, with the ag­ing pop­u­la­tion among the tough­est to deal with.

Yet he re­mains op­ti­mistic. “The in­nate char­ac­ter of the Chi­nese peo­ple is their dy­namism, which adds to the coun­try’s ca­pac­ity to con­stantly re­form it­self,” he added. “How­ever, dy­namism needs lib­erty — an as­pect that should not be ne­glected.”

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