Fu Manchu in Bern

Switzerland was a hub for China’s spy networks in the Cold War. 

Poster for The Face of Fu Manchu, 1965.
Poster for The Face of Fu Manchu, 1965. Ronald Grant Archive/Top Foto.

In the 1960s newspapers around the world claimed that the Chinese embassy in Bern had become ‘Red China’s Spy Centre’: 

In the gloom behind those shutters, the Red Chinese direct an underground whose agents range from the back alleys of Europe to the steamy jungles of Africa … No. 10 Kalcheggweg not only houses Red China’s embassy in Switzerland; it also operates schools for diplomats, propagandists, spies, saboteurs and subversives. 

Until recently, China’s networks in Switzerland were unknown. However, thousands of Swiss archival files have now been temporarily declassified, revealing that, while the quote might sound like an excerpt from a Fu Manchu novel, it was not far off the mark. 

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