The strange case of Chinese hoteliers accused in Switzerland of spying on F35 aircraft

Unterbach, a picturesque village of a few hundred souls in the Bernese Oberland among Switzerland's ski cradles, is the setting of a spy story worthy of a Hollywood movie with Chinese agents, fake hoteliers, covert operations and F-35s. The Swiss newspaper tells the story Tages Anzeiger Quoting anonymous sources from the security services in Bern. It all starts in 2018, when the Wang family from China bought a hotel next to the Meiringen military airstrip.

For five years they live a life free from any vision or doubt. Until this summer police raided the lodge and took the couple away. According to the newspaper, there is espionage: the couple and their son – although it is not certain whether they are actually related – are suspected of having bought the Gasthof Rössli hotel solely to spy on flight operations at Meiringen, which serves as an operating base for the forces' F-35s. Swiss Air.

In fact, American fighter planes — long within sight of Beijing — were tested there in 2019. While some neighbors denounce their suspicions of espionage, others see the Wangs as merely innocent managers of a traditional inn. What is certain is that last year, the three hoteliers were put in the crosshairs of the NDB, the Swiss spy agency, the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper writes. In fact, the security authorities were convinced that the alleged hotel owner was a secret agent.

However, the National Development Bank appears to have found no evidence of suspicious activities by the family, who were anyway found without a work or residence permit. So the three left Switzerland and have never returned since, while the inn has been put up for sale.

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The son, who was contacted by phone by a Tages-Anzeiger journalist, categorically denied these accusations, described the matter as “fake news,” and confirmed that the family intends to return to Switzerland and to Rösli as soon as possible. But according to geopolitical expert Ralph Weber, it wouldn't be surprising if it were a real case of espionage: “The People's Republic of China operates several very active civilian and military intelligence services around the world.” Among Dragon's main interests are obviously everything related to the United States, such as the F-35.


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