Reader's Digest > 21 May - 3 June

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Reader's Digest, 21 May - 3 June

Swiss and Chinese Business Related News in Switzerland and China


China and Switzerland in Dialogue on Human Rights
Published by, 24th May 2016
The 14th round of the human rights dialogue between Switzerland and China was held from 17 to 20 May in Beijing. Open, constructive and mutually critical exchanges on bilateral human rights issues took place with a focus on Switzerland’s human rights priorities such as the criminal justice system, including death penalty, rights of minorities, the strengthening of the international human rights protection system as well as business and human rights. The human rights dialogue was held in a confidential framework. This round of dialogue notably focused on the developments of the past year with respect to lawyers and human rights defenders in China and with recent legislation as well as the rights of minorities. Switzerland expressed its concern about these topics on the basis of concrete situations. Shared national and international challenges were also addressed.
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A Startup from the Canton of Vaud Attracts China
Published by, 30th May 2016
A Chinese delegation made an official visit to Green Motion on the EPFL campus on Monday, and visited as well the Jaeger-LeCoultre watchmaking manufacture in Vallée de Joux, which display charging stations of the startup. Jun Han, the mayor of the city of Xuancheng, located in Anhui province (west of Shanghai), was accompanied by various political representatives. Yingsong Xia, general manager of Anhui Zhongding, a multinational that achieves a turnover of about CHF 1.74 billion with 14’000 employees, was also present. His company invested several million francs in the technology startup Green Motion, which designs and produces charging systems for electric vehicles. The license agreement between the company in Bussigny and the Chinese industrial giant, active in the automotive supplier, was signed in April. The amount of the transaction was not disclosed, but allowed Green Motion to invest tens of millions of francs in its charging network in Switzerland.

ETFs Help London to Eclipse China for Swiss Gold Imports
Published by, 27th May 2016
London has overtaken the traditional gold centres of India and China for shipments of bars from refineries in Switzerland, as the precious metal is sent to UK vaults to back a surge of buying from exchange traded funds. The UK was the biggest destination for gold exports from Switzerland last month, Swiss customs data show, the most since September 2012. At 78.761 tons, more gold was dispatched to UK in April than to Hong Kong, India and China combined. That reflects a sharp change from recent years, when bars were sent from London to be refined in Switzerland before heading to India and China, the largest consumers of gold. High quality global journalism requires investment. Switzerland is a major centre for refining and processing of gold from around the world, while London’s vaults are used to store gold bars backing ETF products. All of the gold held by the largest gold-backed ETF, SPDR Gold Shares, is stored by HSBC in its London vault.

The CEIBS 2nd Europe Forum 2016 in Zurich
Published by, 24th May 2016
Zurich was the second stop for the CEIBS 2nd Europe Forum with, from early in the morning, around 240 people gathered at the UBS’ renowned conference center building located a stone’s throw away from the legendary “Paradeplatz”, the heart of Switzerland’s financial center. H.E. Geng Wenbing, Ambassador of People’s Republic of China to Switzerland addressed an opening speech. He mentioned necessity of a strong Sino-Swiss relationship. Both countries have signed a free trade agreement and during the April visit of Swiss President J. Schneider-Ammann, they also signed an innovative strategic partnership. Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, State Secretary and Director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO, made a few in-depth remarks about Switzerland’s recipe for success. CEIBS President Prof. Pedro Nueno, who is also Chengwei Capital Chair Professor of Entrepreneurship, told the audience that CEIBS’ foray into Switzerland (with last year’s acquisition of the Lorange Institute of Business in Zurich) reflected the topic of today’s forum.

China Value Added Tax for all Services in Effect
Published by, 19th May 2016
1 May marked the conclusion of the incremental transition from the business tax to a value-added tax in China, which began in 2012. The deductible value-added tax has been in effect for all services in China since 1 May. The business tax has been fully repealed. In the final phase, the value-added tax was applied to construction and financial services as well as real-estate transactions. The tax rates for the three-stage value-added tax are 17% (for the leasing of movable goods), 11% (for various telecommunications services, postal services, construction services, transport and real-estate transactions) and 6% (for various telecommunications services, services in the lifestyle area, financial services, research and development as a technical service, IT services, culture and medicine, certifications and consulting.
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Tourist Industry Faced with New Challenges
Published by Dahai Shao, swissinfo, 23rd May 2016
There’s more trouble for Switzerland’s struggling tourism sector. New visa requirements are discouraging the Chinese from travelling to Europe. Figures issued by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) have revealed a structural change in where tourists are coming from. The number of visitors from Europe, the traditional market of Switzerland’s inbound tourism, has been declining sharply. Meanwhile, the numbers of visitors from China, the Gulf states, and Southeast Asian countries had been on the rise. But the picture changed over the winter, with tourists from China declining for the first time. The Swiss National Tourist Office, Switzerland Tourism, says the new requirement for biometric fingerprint data for visas is one of the key factors. This has been mandatory for anyone applying for a visa to Europe’s Schengen zone of countries, including Switzerland, since last November. This means all Chinese must travel to a Swiss consulate in person to apply. There was an unprecedented negative growth of inbound Chinese tourists this past winter, says Simon Bosshart, the Switzerland Tourism director responsible for the Asia Pacific region. There was a slight decrease in January, followed by a significant 20% decline in February and a 5.4% drop in March.

The Swiss Workers Among the Most Satisfied with Their Job
Published by, 20th May 2016
Switzerland is ranked sixth globally in terms of satisfaction of employees about their workplace. More than 78% of respondents reported to be satisfied, even a lot, while only 8% are dissatisfied; the remaining 14% does not take sides. A position shared by the Netherlands, Spain and the United States, according to the ranking published by Randstad, a company specialized in brokerage personnel, standings led by India (84%), Mexico (83%), Austria (81%), Denmark (81%) and Norway (81%) and sees that on the bottom of China (57%) and Japan (40%). The employees' first seeking employment that offers them prospects, an atmosphere of pleasant work, a fair wage as well as good social benefits and job security in the long term ", noted in a statement issued today Nathalie Zihlmann, director of human resources Randstad Switzerland, a company specialized in personal banking. They are mainly young people between 18 and 24 years old to express the greatest need to change jobs. 27% of them even think to change profession.
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Ambassadors of Cheese Honored in Beijing
Published by, 24th May 2016
The International Cheese Guild, the most prominent cheese association in the world, recently held a ceremony at the French embassy residence in Beijing to celebrate its 12 newest members. Some of the association's top management, including its president Roland Barthelemy, attended the celebration. The 12 new members include Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, French ambassador to China, Jean-Jacques De Dardel, Swiss ambassador to China, and Ettore Francesco Sequi, Italian ambassador to China. They were rewarded for their efforts and contributions in promoting cheese throughout various activities over the years. Together with all guild members in China, they will continue to nurture the culture and knowledge of cheese across China, creating a strong link between foreign and local cheesemakers, and further develop the whole cheese industry in China by introducing the benefits of cheese into people’s daily lives, according to Jean-Paul Torris, Maitre Honoris Caseus of the International Cheese Guild and the CEO of France-based cheese group Savencia Fromage & Dairy.

A New Step Forward: University of St.Gallen Goes on WeChat
Published by, 24th May 2016
Nobody could ignore the power of social media today. In China, a country where its digital landscape are totally different from the rest of the world, social media marketing became a big challenge for foreign institutions because of not only the language barrier but also understanding the unique ecosystem and how to take advantage of it to reach more audience, establishing a solid presence in the scene and eventually gaining a meaningful impact. Among Swiss universities, University of St.Gallen (HSG) has been the first institution to start their Sina Weibo account since late 2012 by collaborating with swissnex China for a pilot project and now it has been running for more than three years. However during the past three years, there has been a major shift regarding the key players among the Chinese social media platforms. WeChat, a multi-function mobile app has taken over Sina Weibo’s leading position in the market and has become the most popular mobile app with 695 million monthly active users worldwide. HSG has noticed the trend and made a bold move in making efforts to explore WeChat as their new approach to create a complete digital marketing strategy in China. From May 2016, a monthly post about HSG will be released through swissnex China’s official WeChat account, covering a diverse range of topics from St. Gallen Symposium, HSG alumni stories to top ranking master programs and so on.
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Engineering / Manufacturing

SSM Zhongshan Moves to Sino-Swiss Industrial Park
Published by, 25th May 2016
Schärer Schweiter Mettler (SSM), a Switzerland-based textile machinery manufacturer, recently announced relocation of its SSM Zhongshan plant to the Sino-Swiss Industrial Park (SSIP) in Cuiheng new district, Zhongshan, China. The SSM Zhongshan division manufactures and assembles winding machines for the Asian market. The company also functions as a logistics base for spare parts and is capable of handling all electronic circuit boards and components used in SSM machines. The new location of SSM Zhongshan is equipped with a product showroom that figures as a technology centre for product demonstrations, customer-specific trials and product development.

Prognosis Good for Swiss Biotech Giant
Published by China Daily, 21st May 2016
Roche, the Swiss-based pharmaceuticals and diagnostics solutions provider, will continue to increase its investment in China as the nation adapts to the new normal economic conditions. "We believe China will continue to be a strong and growing market, and we are deeply committed to bringing innovative drugs and diagnostics solutions to the market and expanding patient access through collaboration with local stakeholders," said Christoph Franz, chairman of the board of directors of Roche Holding Ltd. Roche has positioned itself as a healthcare pioneer in China since 1994, when it set up a pharmaceutical branch in Shanghai. Over the past two decades, the company has developed a complete value chain that covers research and development, manufacturing as well as sales, Franz said. China's aging population, growing individual wealth and the government's increasing investment in the healthcare sector are creating increasing opportunities for healthcare companies, which Roche is determined to seize.

ABB to Produce Service Robots in China
Published by China Daily, 20th May 2016
ABB Group, the Swiss power and automation company, has pledged to produce more service robots in China to keep up with growing demand. Ulrich Spiesshofer, its chief executive officer, said such products can be used effectively across a huge range of services, from cleaning and assembly operations within the chemical and automotive sectors, to working at height or at depth, where human workers face safety risks. "We will not only focus on industrial robot research and development in China, but also deploying more resources to develop more types of robot," said Spiesshofer. As the Chinese population has grown wealthier, and more people live in cities, many service and labor-intensive industries have started to struggle to find sufficient numbers of workers, and have seen rising employee turnover rates. The country's automotive, chemical, communication and consumer electronics product manufacturing sectors have been among the hardest hit, putting growing pressure on companies to increase their investment in fully automating factories.

Hubei Province Governor Wang Guosheng Meets with ABB CEO in Wuhan
Published by, 20th May 2016
Wang Guosheng, Deputy Secretary of CPC Hubei Provincial Committee and Governor of Hubei Province, met with ABB executives led by CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer on 18 May in Wuhan, the provincial capital where ABB is holding its largest customer event in Asia. ABB, whose cooperation with Hubei dates back to as early as the 1950s, has participated in the construction of many major projects there, helping utility, industry, transport and infrastructure customers improve productivity and energy efficiency. These projects include the Three Gorges Dam, HVDC transmission lines, next-generation smart substations, Wuhan metro lines and the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, as well as production complexes of Sinopec and Wuhan Iron & Steel. The central province of Hubei is a major industrial base in China strong in industries such as automobile, steel, power and electronic information, and is known for its rich educational and talent resources. Combining Hubei’s traditional strengths with such strategic emerging industries as high-end materials, biomedicine and IT will bring about new growth drivers for Hubei in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period, Governor Wang told Spiesshofer, adding that the government will continue improving business environment and it welcomes more investment from ABB to support local industrial upgrading.
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Bank / Finance / Insurance

UBSF Futures Brokerage Service
Published by, 23th May 2016
Following the receipt of "trading membership" from the China Financial Futures Exchange (CFFEX), UBS Futures Co (UBSF) in China said on Monday that it launched a financial futures brokerage service. The CFFEX membership allows it to offer an increased range of structured solutions to its institutional clients. According to the Chinese Futures Association, financial futures transactions reached RMB 418 trillion (USD 63.79 trillion) in 2015, up 154% year-on-year. The two financial futures products currently available are the index futures (covering CSI 300, SSE 50 and CSI 500 indexes) and treasury futures. In April 2016, UBS Securities Co increased its stake in UBSF from 95.42% to 100%.

Zurich Insurance Makes Diversity & Inclusion Commitments in Hong Kong
Published by, 21st May 2016
Zurich Insurance has used its first Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) conference in Hong Kong as a platform to raise the awareness of and promote D&I in the workplace. Zurich has put a number of initiatives into place as part of our commitment to encouraging D&I. These include launching a global initiative to improve the ability for our employees to access more flexible working options. Zurich also recently launched a new Group Medical Insurance Program in Hong Kong which covers the unmarried partners of its employees, regardless of their gender. Mr. Eric Hui, Chief Executive Officer of Zurich's General Insurance business in Hong Kong, commented, "At Zurich we see Diversity & Inclusion as a business imperative. A diverse and inclusive environment encourages people to respect and embrace different individuals, which can boost morale and enable employees to reach their full potential."
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Hospitality / Tourism / Retails

Mövenpick Appoints New GM at Mövenpick Hotel Enshi
Published by, 24th May 2016
Swiss hotel-management company Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has appointed general manager Anthony Quin to head the team at Mövenpick Hotel Enshi in Hubei province, China. The appointment of Anthony Quin as General Manager follows a spate of recent senior hires in Asia, including the Philippines and Thailand, as the upscale hospitality company sets its sights on further growth in the region. Andrew Langdon, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts senior vice president Asia, said: “We are pleased to announce the appointment of Anthony as the new General Manager of our property in Enshi. “It’s a great honour to be handed the reins of such a well-established property,” Mr Quin said. “I look forward to ensuring Chinese and Swiss cultures are combined and represented in this hotel throughout our day-to-day operations, as well as implementing new culinary concepts and hotel promotions.”

Richemont Net Operating Profits -23%
Published by, 23rd May 2016
Swiss luxury goods group Richemont, whose jewelry brands include Cartier, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels has reported its results for the fiscal year ended 31 March, which showed that operating profits decreased 23%. Richemont announced that the decrease was due to a non-recurring property disposal gain of EUR 234 million in the prior year and current year restructuring and write-down charges of EUR 97 million. The Middle East and Africa showed continued strong growth through the year, while sales in the Asia Pacific region accounted for 36% of the group total. Hong Kong and Macau saw significantly lower sales throughout the year, most notably affecting the watch category and the wholesale channel. The 13% decrease in the region on a constant exchange rate was partly offset by growth in mainland China. The company recorded mixed results, which showed that sales increased 6 percent to EUR 11.076 billion (USD 12.41 billion) compared to EUR 10.410 billion (USD 11.67 billion) over the same period ended March 2015.
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Legal / Trade / Consulting / Services

Chocolate Company Wins Trademark Fight
Published by, 24th May 2016
A German bakery's Shanghai branch has been forced to change its signs because they infringed on Swiss chocolatier Lindt's trademark, the Pudong New Area People's Court said yesterday. The German company Lind Bakery was earlier ordered by the court to change its signs and pay compensation of RMB 120,000 (USD 18,321) to Lindt & Sprüngli AG, but it refused to do so. However, Lind defended its use of the name, saying that it had a right to because it is a family bakery that has passed from generation to generation since it was founded in Germany in 1905. However, the court has forced the company to comply by freezing its bank accounts and barring the owner from leaving the country. Lindt, a Swiss chocolate maker founded in 1845, entered China in the 1990s. In 2012, Lindt found that a company called Lind had opened several cafes in shopping centers such as Xintiandi and Grand Gateway 66. The company's outlets had signs displaying script resembling Lindt's trademark. The script was also on Lind's promotional materials, cards and products. Lindt filed a lawsuit against Lind's local branch and its outlets, demanding it pay compensation and take down the signs.
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