“Swiss Made” in Beijing: the Untold Story Behind Switzerland’s Success

During last week’s annual Asia-Pacific Association for International Education (APAIE) and in the presence of various Swiss institutions of higher education, swissnex China and the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing organized four lectures on Switzerland’s exceptional success story. Switzerland, as a country that puts great emphasis on higher education, research and commitment to international partnership, is splendidly portrayed in Mr. R. James Breiding’s book Swiss Made: The Untold Story Behind Switzerland’s Success. Mr. Breiding was welcomed by the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), Tsinghua University, Newhuadu Business School (NBS) and the Yale, Harvard and IMD alumni clubs in Beijing, where he held talks with students and young professionals.

The first lecture about “The Success Story Behind Switzerland’s Strong Positioning in Finance & Banking” took place on March 25th and was hosted by Prof. Huayong NIU, Dean of the International Business School at BFSU. H.E. Jean-Jacques de Dardel, Ambassador of Switzerland to China, and Mr. Guohua YAN, Vice President of the BFSU, also attended the lecture, during which Mr. Breiding offered a comprehensive introduction into the fascinating world of Swiss finance and banking industries. He explained the reasons behind their success, and how they eventually became the backbones of Switzerland’s economic landscape. 

Prof. Wei ZHANG, Academic Director of Tsinghua x-lab, hosted another lecture called “Swiss Innovation versus Innovation from Silicon Valley”. In the course of this event, Mr. Breiding and Prof. Steven White, Deputy Director of Tsinghua x-lab, shared their viewpoints on Swiss innovation and engaged in lively discussions with the audience. The discussion revealed how Swiss visionaries and entrepreneurs rose to success, step-by-step paving the way for ground breaking innovations and “Swiss Made” excellence.

At the premise of the Newhuadu Business School, a leading private business school with a newly established campus in Zurich, Mr. Breiding gave another talk and joined a roundtable discussion in front of over 80 business executives including APAIE and SwissCham representatives. Together with Mr. Chijiang (Star) WANG, General Manager of hampoo, he elaborated on the topic “When Made in China Meets Swiss Made”. According to Mr. Wang, “Made in China” stands partly for “copycat behavior” and low quality at low market prices, while “Swiss Made” is a labeling that exemplifies the commitment to produce not only high-end products, but also the continuous effort to provide the employees with market-oriented educational programs and state-of-the-art equipment. In taking Switzerland’s success and openness to immigrant workers as an example, Mr. Wang is confident that a similar book to Swiss Made, but with reference to Chinese companies and entrepreneurs, will appear under the title Made in China soon.

The last lecture in this series, “Innovation in Switzerland vs. Innovation in Silicon Valley”, was held on March 26th in collaboration with the Yale, Harvard and IMD alumni clubs in Beijing. A dynamic group of young business professionals addressed questions like “What are the similarities and differences between innovation in Switzerland and innovation in Silicon Valley?” or “How come Switzerland is home to high-tech SMEs without owning even one single national innovation park?”. In doing so, they became aware of the forces that keep the motors of innovation and entrepreneurship in Switzerland moving.

To sum up, the “Swiss Made” lectures and roundtable discussions perfectly fitted the context of the 65 years anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and People’s Republic of China. Swissnex China and the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing could witness that Swiss Made was very well received by the audience and offers useful insights into the remarkable story of Swiss entrepreneurship, craftsmanship and innovation.

- Contributed by Marcel Schneider, Attaché of Science, Technology and Education Section, Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing