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Dissident asks Swiss to push Beijing on rights

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Dissident asks Swiss to push Beijing on rights
Photo: Nina Lincoff/Medill News Service
09:11 CEST+02:00
Exiled Chinese dissident Harry Wu called on Switzerland on Monday to push Beijing to include a clause on human rights in a free trade deal being negotiated by the two countries.

"Switzerland is in a good economic situation. It could focus not only on merchandise but also on the people who make it," Wu, who lives in the United States, told the Swiss Press Club, according to a French translation of his comments by Swiss news agency ATS.

Switzerland and China are holding talks aimed at reaching a lucrative trade deal, but rights groups have said they suspect the agreement contains no mention of human rights.

"Switzerland should exert pressure and express its concern over working conditions, minority rights and religious freedom" in China, Wu said, insisting that although Beijing would not agree, it would, "little by little", take such opinions into account.

His call echoed a campaign by four Swiss rights groups which are demanding that Bern make human rights demands on China in exchange for completing the trade deal.

Switzerland and China have been discussing the agreement since the beginning of 2011 and it could be concluded by the end of this year.

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