China’s envoy to Sweden, Gui Congyou, unwittingly admitted to Taiwan not being part of China during an interview last week. However, this is not the first time Gui has indirectly stated that Taiwan is not part of mainland China.
China has been critical of Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson for his coverage of Xinjiang, the perspective of which diverges from that Beijing.
A month ago, OIsson launched a new website Kinamedia which claims to be Sweden’s largest news website focussed on China. His sympathy towards the Taiwanese side led to the Chinese embassy in Sweden sending him a fourth and “most confrontational” email yet on April 9.
The embassy has accused him of “colluding with Taiwan separatists, fabricating fake news to smear China, making extreme anti-China comments, spreading disinformation to provoke anti-China sentiments and sabotaging China-Sweden friendship”.
In what Taiwan News has called an attempt to discredit Olsson’s reporting on China, the embassy mentioned that Olsson claimed to be a “China expert” but he had “not been in China for more than five years.”
The point of contention is that Olsson had been in Taiwan in the last five years and by claiming that Olsson had not been to China, the embassy has indirectly stated that Taiwan is not part of China.
While Olsson joked about the emails, Sweden’s politicians took it on a serious note. Members of the Christian Democrat and Swedish Democrat parties reiterated their demand for the expulsion of Gui.
Det är självfallet helt oacceptabelt att en ambassad gör hotfulla uttalanden mot en journalist. https://t.co/d4PTSNmF2R
— Ann Linde (@AnnLinde) April 10, 2021
Relations between Stockholm and Beijing have been going through a rough patch for a couple of years now with the former banning Huawei and awarding the Swedish PEN’s Tucholsky Prize to kidnapped Swedish publisher Gui Minhai. In both instances, China’s response was seen as threatening.
After politicians called for the ambassador’s expulsion, the Chinese embassy in Sweden instead of apologizing for its comments criticized the politicians’ understanding of “freedom of speech” and claiming that China is being disrespected.
After Sweden recently banned Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network, Chinese ambassador Gui Congyou says to Swedish news agency TT that the decision, if not altered, will "undoubtedly" affect Huawei rival Ericsson's business in China in a negative way. https://t.co/NXXByl1IYO
— Jojje Olsson (@jojjeols) November 1, 2020
One would think that the Chinese embassy would learn from its mistakes. But the same comments were repeated by Gui Congyou in an interview with the Swedish talk show “30 minuter” (30 minutes), hosted by Anders Holmberg. Gui tried to correct his error by subsequently stating Taiwan is a part of China.
But the damage had been done. The clip was circulated and has been viewed by more than 75000 people. Olsson in his article questioned that by repeatedly stating that Taiwan is not part of China, whether “is it the ambassador himself who is colluding with Taiwanese separatist forces?”
Written by Aswathy K