A seemingly harmless incident between Chinese tourists and local police in Stockholm has escalated into an unfolding diplomatic crisis. The Chinese embassy says that the police “brutally abused” and “severely endangered the life” of the visiting family and wants an apology. Swedish judicial authorities have dropped the case and, so far, no apologies have been offered.
China’s forceful reaction is surprising but not an isolated event. It follows on from an unprecedented propaganda offensive, which has developed since the new Chinese ambassador to Sweden, Gui Congyou, took up his post last year. Gui, an experienced Russia hand, appears to have taken as his mission to improve, or “correct”, the debate about China in Sweden. Since spring, statements have piled up on the embassy’s website condemning Swedish opinions as “biased”, “groundless” and “totally unacceptable”.