Foreign Ministry Archive files and publications on intelligence

Ariane Knuesel's picture

Dear colleagues,


I am working on a book project (Habilitation) on Sino-Swiss relations in the Cold War. I am particularly interested in the use of Switzerland as a hub for Chinese business, diplomatic, propaganda, and intelligence networks.  Unfortunately, I began my research after the Foreign Ministry Archive restricted access to its holdings.

If anybody has any files that include references to Switzerland, the Embassy in Berne, the Consulate-General in Geneva, Swiss banks, Chinese diplomats in Switzerland, Chinese spies travelling to Geneva etc. I'd be extremely grateful if you could share them with me in exchange for Swiss chocolate and scans from files in the Swiss Federal Archives.

Also, does anybody know of any (reliable) publications on Chinese intelligence in the Cold War, particularly intelligence networks in Europe?






Ariane Knüsel

University of Fribourg

Dear Ariane,

You might check the files of the British Government (stored in London or available online through a database) to see if they made any observations about Sino-Swiss relations.

Best wishes,

Matt Wills

Hi, Ariane:

In my current study of American-educated Chinese scientists, I came across the story of a purchasing mission undertaken by the Chinese rocket scientist Liang Sili 梁思礼 (youngest son of the famous Chinese statesman Liang Qichao and a returnee from the US in 1949) to Switzerland in late 1957, accompanied by Zhang Jizhou 张济舟 of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade. They nearly succeeded in buying, through the black market, some missiles made by the Swiss firm Oerlikon when they received order from home to give up the deal because the Soviets just then agreed to provide much of the technical assistance sought by China in this field. So they ended up only buying some theodolites for use in the space program.

I have mentioned this episode in my paper “The Cold War and the Reshaping of Transnational Science in China,” in Naomi Oreskes and John Krige (eds.), Science and Technology in the Global Cold War (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014), 343-370 (on 357), which you can download from my web page: You can also find a little more detail in Shi Lei 石磊 and Yang Liwei 杨利伟, Liang Sili yuanshi zhuanji 梁思礼院士传记 (Beijing: Zhongguo yuhang chubanshe 中国宇航出版社, 2015), 110-113. Unfortunately, Liang, whom I interviewed in 2011, passed way in 2016.

If you could learn and share more information on the Swiss side of this episode, I will be grateful.

Best wishes,

Zuoyue Wang
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona