Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 April 2022
Chinese foreign relations and foreign trade during the Cultural Revolution’s radical phase (1966–1969) were different than during the period from 1970 to 1976. The radicals’ control of the Foreign Ministry affected the Chinese missions in Switzerland between 1966 and 1969. Because of Switzerland’s function as the Chinese headquarters in Western Europe, Swiss diplomats were among the few foreigners who remained relatively unaffected by Red Guard measures and other events in Beijing. Although diplomatic tensions occurred between Switzerland and China, these did not lead to a rupture of official relations. This preferential treatment changed during the period from 1970 to 1976, when Switzerland lost importance because China established relations with the majority of the Western nations. The anti-capitalist and anti-Western fervour of the Red Guards did not stop trade between China and Switzerland completely. In fact, Sino-Swiss trade continued – albeit haltingly – during the radical phase of the Cultural Revolution. The improvement of political relations between China and Western European countries, however, also increased Western European interest in the Chinese market. The last part of the chapter, therefore, discusses how the Swiss government and Swiss companies tried to stave off this competition in the early to mid-1970s.