China decries ‘arrogance’ in Sweden and rejects police response as tourist row escalates

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2018, 8:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2018, 8:37pm

China’s ambassador to Sweden has continued his attack on Swedish authorities over the treatment of Chinese tourists in Stockholm, with accusations of arrogance and bias by “certain forces”.

Ambassador Gui Congyou went on the offensive during his second interview in two days with Swedish media, after local police denied wrongdoing in their handling of the incident.

Gui blamed what he described as the “biased” views of Swedish people for the impact on bilateral ties, as well as reiterating his criticism of the Swedish government’s handling of the tourist case two weeks ago.

“In recent years, some forces, media and people in Sweden have not put China on an equal footing,” Gui said on Monday in an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen.

“They are full of arrogance, bias, stereotyping, and ignorance towards China” and should stop looking at China “from a high ground”.

“They should treat China on an equal basis,” Gui continued. “Only on this foundation can the relationship between China and Sweden be developed further.”

China accuses Sweden of protocol breach as row over police treatment of tourists ramps up

Gui did not elaborate on his comments, which follow allegations that Swedish police forcibly ejected a Chinese man and his parents from the Generator Stockholm hotel just after midnight on September 2.

The travellers had arrived at the hostel much earlier than the check-in time and then refused to leave. Hotel staff called the police to carry them out.

China said the tourists were maltreated and accused Sweden of violating diplomatic protocol as it did not respond to its request for a thorough investigation.

Swedish prosecutor Mats Ericsson told the Aftonbladet newspaper that no preliminary investigation had been initiated because “we made the assessment that no crime on the part of the police had been committed”.

Gui told Expressen that Swedish police met his embassy staff on Monday and told him the Chinese family had not broken Swedish law, but neither had the police.

Gui insisted it was “inhumane” for the Swedish police to take the family to an outdoor area at midnight.

The diplomatic intervention comes at a time of turbulence in relations between Beijing and Stockholm.

Last week, the Chinese embassy criticised an article released by Swedish news agency Tidningalnas Teleglambyra on a recent visit to the country by the Dalai Lama – another source of bilateral tension – saying the article was full of bias and that China resolutely opposes the Tibetan spiritual leader staging separatist activities.

Jiang Shixue, an international relations professor at Shanghai University, said it was unclear that the ambassador’s latest attack was related to the Dalai Lama, but his visit to Sweden was a violation of China’s “red line” on the issue, and it would have a negative impact on bilateral ties.

China lets Swedish doctor see detained bookseller Gui Minhai seven months after his arrest

Jan Weidenfeld of the Mercator Institute for China Studies, however, said that punishing Sweden for the visit was in line with historical precedent.

He believes China’s criticism of Sweden’s domestic human rights is part of a wider Chinese foreign policy strategy on the issue.

“China is trying to relativise human rights in an attempt to say, ‘in Sweden, the human rights of Chinese tourists have been violated’, in an attempt to establish a kind of level playing field.”

Another source of friction is Beijing’s detention of Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen and book publisher who was detained for a second time in China in January.

He was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who disappeared in 2015 and resurfaced in mainland China. He was arrested again while travelling with two Swedish diplomats on a train to Beijing.