Traditionally neutral Switzerland said it would seek to defend its interests and values more strongly in the face of political restrictions and increasing human rights violations by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said the CCP’s economic liberalization has surpassed political liberalization and respect for human rights, according to The Strait Times, quoting SonntagsBlick on Aug. 2.

“We are seeing China stray from the path of openness,” Cassis said. and then he added, “This means that Switzerland must also defend its interests and values more strongly, for example by strengthening international law and the multilateral system.

Cassis explained that throughout its 70 years of relations with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) it has maintained a “constructive but critical” attitude, in which the rule of law and human rights have played an important role.

“Now we realize that the story is more turbulent than we thought. Human rights violations are on the increase. We want to protect these rights,” said Cassis.

In particular, he referred to the CCP’s violation of the international treaty guaranteeing the “One country, two systems” system of government agreed for Hong Kong when the city was transferred to the CCP by the UK in 1997.

“If China abandons the ‘One country, two systems’ principle in the case of Hong Kong, it also affects many Swiss companies that have invested there,” Cassis explained, warning that if the CCP insisted on such behavior the reaction from the West would be strong.

In July, the CCP imposed a new national security law and it began persecuting Hong Kong leaders who claim to defend autonomy and their rights.

A growing number of countries are rejecting this law and the increased repression of rights that accompanies it.

The United States is a staunch defender of Hong Kong and its sovereignty, and it has been joined by Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and now Switzerland.

“Using the national security law to erode fundamental freedoms and create an atmosphere of coercion and self-censorship is a tragedy for Hong Kong,” said the U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong and Macau Hanscom Smith, according to the Taipei Times.