ZURICH (Reuters) - The head of the Swiss agency that implements economic sanctions expects the neutral country to adopt any punitive measures the European Union launches against China if it invades Taiwan, she said in a newspaper interview.
China has been stepping up military activity around Taiwan seeking to pressure the democratically elected government there to accept Chinese sovereignty. Taiwan's government says only the island's 23 million people can decide their future, and while it wants peace, it will defend itself if attacked.
Asked by the Neue Zuercher Zeitung paper if Switzerland would adopt EU sanctions against China in that case, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) Director Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch said: "I strongly believe that we would adopt such sanctions.
"However, sanctions in the case of China would be far more drastic (than sanctions against Russia) because the economic relations are much more important. Therefore, there would probably be greater discussions in the EU and the United States as well as in Switzerland than there were in Russia. But I hope it will never come to that."
Ineichen-Fleisch defended Switzerland's record on adopting EU sanctions against Russian individuals and companies over Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, which Moscow describes as a "special military operation".
Pressure has mounted on Switzerland -- a popular destination for Moscow's elite and a holding place for Russian wealth -- to more quickly identify and freeze assets of hundreds of sanctioned Russians.
As of this month Switzerland has frozen 6.7 billion Swiss francs ($7.04 billion) worth of Russian financial assets and 15 properties, and Ineichen-Fleisch said this figure was unlikely to change much.
"We at SECO have no indication that there are many assets of sanctioned persons that have not yet been found," she said.
($1 = 0.9514 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Toby Chopra)