|I greatly enjoy to be present at this occasion of great importance to our bilateral relations.
It is my particular pleasure to greet my compatriots.
- Mr. Guy-Olivier Segond, the President of the cantonal government of Geneva and the "Vieux grenadiers".
- Mr. Bertrand Piccard, the world-famous balloonist who is indebted to the Chinese government. Without the cooperation of the government of China, his flight would not have been possible.
Today we celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations and friendship between our two countries and people.
Switzerland was one of the first West European countries to recognize the People's Republic of China and to establish diplomatic relations.
50 years ago, this decision of the Swiss government was courageous and farsighted.
The Swiss government recognised that the New China would play an important role in Asia and in the world.
Clearly, the potential of the Chinese market for Swiss exports was also recognized.
The Swiss government was right.
During the past 50 years our bilateral relations have gradually developed to reach the high level of today.
In the past half-century many changes have taken place in both our countries.
China has undergone spectacular changes. The mutual interest to enhance our bilateral cooperation has developed accordingly.
Our economic and trade relations have grown, Swiss investment in China is very important. Bilateral tourism is developing strongly.
Cultural, educational and scientific relations are very good.
The past half-century has created a great number of ties of friendship and partnership.
We learn about China's historic and cultural background.
And your learn about Switzerland.
We increase our mutual understanding.
We all can learn from each other.
A main feature of the past 50 years is the technological revolution, especially in electronics and information technology.
Their impact on our economies and societies is not yet fully known.
But we experience every day that the world has become very small. Communication across large distances has become immediate.
This is a big chance for mankind.
After a sometimes difficult past, China has some 20 years ago embarked on a path
leading to great prosperity for the Chinese people.
China's role in Asia and worldwide will grow ever stronger. Switzerland is a reliable partner.
Let us continue to work together, for the benefit the peoples of Switzerland and of China, and the whole world.