mandag 30. desember 2019

Jojje Olsson: China Tries to Put Sweden on Ice

“We treat our friends with fine wine,” said the man in black suit from his armchair, adding, “but for our enemies we got shotguns.” This is not a line from the latest blockbuster gangster movie, but a message from China’s ambassador to Sweden, speaking directly to Swedish public radio.

The above line is only one of several threats Ambassador Gui Congyou has been busy issuing since Swedish PEN announced in early November that kidnapped Swedish publisher Gui Minhai will receive the Tucholsky Prize — an annual award to writers and publicists living under threat or in exile — this year.

A couple of days later, the Chinese embassy branded the nomination as a farce in a statement on its website, demanding that Swedish PEN withdraw the prize or face consequences. That statement was later taken down and replaced with a much longer and more assertive text on November 14, the day before the award ceremony was to be held. Some people, the ambassador commented, “shouldn’t feel at ease” after hurting Chinese interests.

Under the telling headline “Ambassador Gui Congyou Refutes Lies of Swedish Media About the Case of Gui Minhai,” the threats were also extended to Swedish authorities. It is tradition for the Swedish minister of culture to attend the award ceremony for the Tucholsky Prize. But if Amanda Lind were to do so this year, the statement warned, China would “surely take countermeasures.”