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Archive for Sweden

Newsline: Sweden summons Chinese ambassador over criticism of country and media

Sweden’s foreign ministry has summoned the Chinese ambassador for talks over his repeated criticism of the Scandinavian nation and alleged intimidation of the Swedish media. Relations between Sweden and China have been strained for several years over Beijing’s detention of Chinese-born Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, who published gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders out of a Hong Kong book shop. A foreign ministry spokeswoman on Tuesday refused to disclose the specific issues that would be raised. Chinese ambassador Gui Congyou in November threatened “counter-measures” after the culture minister awarded a Swedish rights prize to Gui Minhai. Two business delegations to Stockholm were subsequently cancelled. In an interview at the weekend on Swedish television SVT, he said of Sweden’s critical media coverage of China: “It’s like a 48-kilo lightweight boxer picking a fight with an 86-kilo heavyweight boxer, and the 86-kilo boxer out of courtesy and goodwill tells the 48-kilo boxer to mind his own business.” (https://www.hongkongfp.com/2020/01/22/sweden-summons-chinese-ambassador-criticism-country-media/) “But the lightweight boxer doesn’t listen, he continues to provoke and forces himself into the heavyweight boxer’s home. What choice does then this 86-kilo boxer have?” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told SVT the ambassador’s remarks were “an unacceptable threat”.

Newsline: Former Swedish Ambassador to China to Stand Trial

Sweden’s former ambassador to China will stand trial for diplomatic misconduct after she tried to make a deal with Beijing leading to the release of Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhai, who is currently detained in China. The decision came a day after hundreds of thousands of protesters once more flooded the streets of Hong Kong in a peaceful protest on Dec. 8 against the erosion of their traditional freedoms under Chinese rule, and to mark Human Rights Day, six months after the pro-democracy movement began. Anna Lindstedt has been charged by Swedish prosecutors with “arbitrariness during negotiations with a foreign power,” specifically linked to a meeting during which she was “in contact with persons representing the interests of the Chinese State.” (https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/trial-12102019125314.html) Sweden’s foreign ministry recalled Lindstedt in February after she was accused of holding a meeting with Angela Gui, Gui’s daughter, without official authorization.

Newsline: Russia expels two Swedish diplomats

Russia has expelled two Swedish diplomats from Moscow as part of a reciprocal move against Stockholm, Sweden said on May 8. Relations between the two countries have been strained in the last few years over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and sabre-rattling in the Baltic. “Sweden has previously made the decision that one Russian diplomat would not have his visa renewed and following that, we have declined Russian applications for diplomatic visas,” a Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman said. “Russia has answered by asking two Swedish diplomats to leave Russia.” The spokeswoman declined to give further details. (https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-russia-sweden-diplomats-idUKKCN1SE1SZ) The ministry said in December that Moscow had asked one of its diplomats to leave Russia after Stockholm rejected two Russian applications for diplomatic visas. Asked in Moscow whether the Kremlin had expelled two Swedish diplomats in response to Stockholm’s visa rejection, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the question did “not require us to comment”. “Without getting into details, I can say that the answer is contained in the question,” TASS news agency quoted her as saying. “I am talking about the phrase ‘in response’,” she said, declining to provide further details.

Newsline: Swedish ambassador to China investigated for security breaches

Swedish authorities said that the country’s ambassador to China was under criminal investigation for breaching national security, after she was called back to Stockholm amid reports of her role in arranging unauthorised meetings about the case of detained bookseller Gui Minhai. Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hans Ihrman confirmed Swedish media reports that Anna Lindstedt was “under ongoing investigation” for the relevant national security crimes without further elaboration, the Swedish Prosecution Authority told the South China Morning Post in an email reply. It was reported earlier that Lindstedt had been recalled from Beijing to meet with Swedish foreign ministry officials, and Stockholm later said it was conducting an internal investigation over her “incorrect action” connected to events occurring at the end of January. Lindstedt was embroiled in a political storm after Angela Gui, the daughter of Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai, wrote in a public post on Medium on February 13 that the Swedish ambassador was involved in arranging an unauthorised meeting between her and unidentified Chinese businessmen. (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3002569/swedish-ambassador-china-investigated-security-breaches-gui) The Swedish embassy in Beijing declined to comment on Lindstedt’s case on Wednesday, saying that the investigation was active. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Swedish Police Authority also declined to comment. Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born naturalised Swedish citizen, was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who disappeared in late 2015 but resurfaced later in mainland China. The affair saw the associates, all from the Causeway Bay Bookstore and Mighty Current Publishing House – which published salacious books about the lives of past and current Chinese leaders – vanish from Thailand, Hong Kong and mainland China. It was later revealed that all five were investigated for their alleged “illegal business” of selling banned books through underground channels to buyers on the mainland. Gui, owner of the bookstore and publishing house, was released in October 2017 after serving a two-year sentence for a drink-driving offence from 2003. He was arrested again three months later on a train to Beijing, when he was accompanied by two Swedish diplomats, on charges of leaking state secrets abroad. Sweden has condemned the way Beijing has handled Gui’s case, and demanded that the bookseller be released and reunited with his family immediately. China, however, has insisted that it has handled the case “in accordance with the law”.

Newsline: Swedish foreign ministry investigates ambassador to China

Sweden’s ambassador to China is under internal investigation, the embassy said Thursday, after she set up meetings between the daughter of a detained Swedish publisher and two businessmen that appeared to have gone awry. Ambassador Anna Lindstedt returned to Stockholm on Wednesday to meet with officials from the foreign affairs ministry, the Swedish Embassy in Beijing said by phone. Lindstedt is not under criminal investigation. The embassy declined to give further details, but the ministry confirmed that Lindstedt’s departure was related to meetings she arranged between Angela Gui, the daughter of detained Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai, and the two businessmen. “The ambassador has acted incorrectly in the sense that the foreign ministry had no knowledge that the meetings took place,” spokeswoman Catherine Johnsson told The Associated Press (https://www.kentucky.com/news/business/article226252170.html). She said the internal investigation was aimed at getting “an overall picture of what has happened,” and that “as far as the action of the ambassador is concerned, we must wait for what the inquiry will come up with.”

Newsline: Chinese Embassy in Sweden issues safety alert

The Chinese Embassy in Sweden issued a safety alert. According to the safety alert, recently, there are more cases where Chinese tourists have been victims of theft and robbery, as well as cases where victims were treated poorly by Swedish police. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Sweden said they are concerned about the safety and legitimate rights of Chinese citizens visiting the country. In the announcement, the embassy urged Chinese citizens in Sweden to increase their safety awareness and strengthen safety precautions. In the event of an emergency, evidence should be also collected while ensuring safety. It also stated that Chinese citizens are urged to immediately call the police and contact the Chinese Embassy in Sweden for help.


Newsline: Guatemalan court halts removal of Swedish ambassador

Guatemala’s highest court has halted the government’s request that Sweden remove its ambassador. The Constitutional Court ruled that the administration of President Jimmy Morales must follow established international rules in resolving the issue. In early May, the government asked Sweden and Venezuela to remove their ambassadors and accused them of interfering in Guatemala’s internal affairs. Swedish ambassador Anders Kompass was given 30 days to leave after he announced Sweden’s financial support for a United Nations-sponsored commission investigating corruption in Guatemala. The commission, which goes by the initials CICIG, had accused President Jimmy Morales of corruption related to alleged illegal campaign financing while he was secretary general of his party. Morales subsequently tried unsuccessfully to expel the commission’s head, Ivan Velasquez, from the country.