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Ambassador Gui Congyou Gives an Exclusive Interview with Aftonbladet on the Brutal Treatment of Chinese Tourists by Swedish Police

On 16 September, Ambassador Gui Congyou gave an interview to Aftonbladet journalist Mira Micic on the brutal treatment of Chinese tourists by Swedish police. Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Three Chinese tourists arrived at a hotel without reservation and the hotel staff called the police to remove them. Why has this become such a big issue to the Chinese government?

Gui Congyou: First I would like to correct a mistake in your question. The three Chinese tourists did have a reservation. They just arrived several hours earlier. China has nearly 1.4 billion people. The life, safety and dignity of each and every one of them is precious to us. To protect the life, safety and dignity of Chinese citizens in the hosting country is an important duty and task of the Chinese Government and Embassy. It also should be the duty of governments of every country, including Sweden. We find it shocking and hard to understand that the three Chinese tourists were treated in such a brutal manner in a country that always talks about human rights and justice. The three Chinese tourists did not break any Swedish law. Even if they did, the Swedish police should have handled the case according to law and informed the Chinese Embassy.

Q: So far, the hotel, police and witnesses have different versions of what happened. Before taking diplomatic actions, did the Embassy have an in-depth inquiry of the incident?

Gui Congyou: We reached to the relevant parties to get detailed information from different perspectives. We immediately informed the Swedish Government on what we learned and requested an immediate meeting with Swedish police. But after almost two weeks, there is still no response to our meeting request from the Swedish police. We find this particularly hard to understand.

Q: Did the Chinese side get information only from the Chinese tourists?

Gui Congyou: As I said, we have received information from all parties involved, except the Swedish police. Our main concern is why were the Chinese citizens treated so brutally by the Swedish police when they did not break any Swedish law?

Q: Hotels have to call the police when tourists refuse to leave their property. It happens frequently in Sweden.

Gui Congyou: You can continue to talk to the hotel to find out what happened there. But why were the Chinese tourists treated so brutally and tossed at a graveyard in a desolate place by the police when they did not break any Swedish law? Why has the police not informed the Chinese Embassy and not responded to our requests for a meeting? If you will interview the Swedish police, please raise my questions to them.

Q: Yesterday the Aftonbladet website posted a video shot by a witness. I would like for you to watch it and tell me what you think. (The video shows the Chinese tourists calling for help in front of the police on the street.)

Gui Congyou: Why was the Chinese tourist acting like that? His father was ill and had to bring medicine with him. The father was already half-unconscious when being brutally dragged from the hotel and his mother was collapsing on the ground. Why were the Swedish police not giving them any help? At midnight, when they had just arrived in a new place and knew no one around here, what else do you think these helpless people could do?

Q: Did they book other hotels? Did he try to find another hotel to stay?

Gui Congyou: We also learned about what happened between the hotel and the Chinese tourists. Since you asked, I would like to say a few words about it. It is not uncommon that tourists with a booking arrive in a hotel several hours earlier. They are actually already the hotel's guests. If they arrive during the daytime, the hotel usually lets them deposit the luggage at the reception and go out to travel, and check in later. But it was midnight when the Chinese tourists arrived. After such a long journey to Sweden and knowing no one here, what could they do?

Q: After the incident, what did they do?

Gui Congyou: They did not break any Swedish law but were treated so brutally by Swedish police. They came to Sweden with great interest and curiosity, only to find themselves treated like this. They already lost all interest in the country. After being deserted at a graveyard by the police, they were only able to get back to Stockholm by train with the help of a kind Swedish passer-by. They had to give up the trip in Sweden and leave the country the very next morning.

Q: Did they go to a hospital?

Gui Congyou: There were bruises on Mr. Zeng's father after being brutally treated by the police. It already cost them because they had to cancel the trip in Sweden. It would cost them even more if they canceled the entire trip. We all need to extend sympathy to the tourists for their unfortunate experience. But so far we have heard not a single word of apology from the Swedish police, which we find shocking and hard to understand.

Q: I want to ask again, what are the improper behaviors of the Swedish police?

Gui Congyou: As I stressed repeatedly, did the Chinese tourists break any law?! If they did, why did the police and hotel not contact the Chinese Embassy immediately? Had the Embassy been contacted, we would have provided assistance to the three Chinese tourists immediately. At midnight, for the police to toss the defenseless tourists at a graveyard in a desolate place is too much!

Q: Did the tourists stay for a few more hours in the hotel property after being told to leave? In that case, the hotel has the right to remove them according to Swedish law.

Gui Congyou: If they did stay a few more hours in the hotel, it would already be dawn. But the whole thing happened during late night. It was late night, and they were in a country thousands of miles away from home where they did not know anyone. Arriving only a few hours earlier than the booking, they were actually already the hotel's guests and need assistance from the hotel.

Q: The hotel said they booked the wrong date. Did they find another hotel or go to hospital? Did they contact the Embassy?

Gui Congyou: I cannot understand your question. Should they find a place in the hospital when the hotel did not let them stay? Regrettably, the Chinese tourists did not contact the Embassy during their communication with the hotel and the police. Even more regrettably, neither the hotel nor the police contacted the Embassy promptly. The police even cast them at a graveyard. We have not heard from the police on our requests for a meeting with Embassy staff.

Q: We noticed that the Embassy issued a travel warning after the incident. Was the Embassy telling Chinese tourists that it is dangerous to travel in Sweden?

Gui Congyou: I would like to correct your statement that what we issued was travel alerts, not warning. The Embassy has issued many such alerts. Why did we do this? I would like to inform you that for quite some time, on average the Embassy receives two reports of Chinese tourists' wallets or passports being robbed or stolen per day. Our colleagues often had to wake up midnight or work on weekends and holidays to replace their documents so that they could return home. We have raised the issue to almost all the relevant Swedish government departments, but none of them said it was their responsibility. Almost all of the robberies and thefts were reported to the police, but so far no case has received any reply from the police, not to say being solved.

Q: Such things happen in all big European cities. What I want to ask is whether you believe Sweden is not safe for Chinese tourists after what has happened.

Gui Congyou: You may find the answer to the question in the election slogans of Swedish political parties during the recent election. We noticed it is a primary slogan of almost all Swedish political parties to strengthen rule of law, crack down on organized crimes and protect law and order.

Q: This kind of incidents are fairly common in big cities of all countries. Do you believe it is more dangerous to travel in Swedish cities than other European countries?

Gui Congyou: Such an incident will not happen in China. Protecting the security and legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese citizens is an obligation of the Chinese Government, so is the protection of the security and legitimate rights and interests of foreign citizens in China according to law. As for whether security is worsening in Sweden, I again suggest that you look for the answer in the election slogans of the eight political parties in Sweden.

Q: Mr. Ambassador, you have worked here for nearly two years. From your experience, what is your view on the security situation in Sweden?

Gui Congyou: First I would like to correct you that I have been working here for a little more than one year. Back in university, I learned that Sweden was a country that was so safe that people could leave their doors open at night. After one year here, my impression changed. As I said, on average every day our Embassy receives two reports of robbery or theft of Chinese tourists' properties and passports. What is your view on it?

Q: The Embassy has issued a number of travel alerts since the summer. Is it because such robberies and thefts happen more often in Sweden than other European cities?

Gui Congyou: All our embassies and consulates abroad need to issue travel alerts or warnings when the local security is bad or deteriorating. It is the bounden duty of Chinese diplomatic missions to ensure the safety of life and properties of each and every Chinese citizen abroad.

Q: We noticed that the Chinese Embassy has become more visible and issued several remarks to criticize the way China is portrayed by Swedish media. Is it a new strategy of the Embassy?

Gui Congyou: We cannot accept the way some Swedish forces, media and individuals portray China. Their depiction of China is not objective, realistic or true. Our task is to present a complete, objective and real China to the Swedish people and a complete, objective and real Sweden to the Chinese people, so that the two countries will have more friendly exchanges and cooperation. Some Swedish forces, media and individuals are full of arrogance, bias, stereotype and ignorance against China.

Q: An anonymous source from the Swedish government guessed that the Chinese Embassy raising the issue has something to do with the Gui Minhai case. What do you think?

Gui Congyou: The word "guess" you used is accurate. Some Swedish forces, media and individuals do not base what they say on objective facts, but on assumptions and speculations, and even create disinformation to smear China. We do not make such guesses. Since you mentioned the Gui Minhai case, I would like to stress that Gui Minhai is a criminal that committed serious crimes in China, and the competent Chinese authorities are handling the case according to law. The three Chinese tourists did not break any law, but were subjected to such brutally treatment by the Swedish police. We hope the Swedish Government will also act in accordance with law.

Q: If I may ask one last question, what is your view on Sweden-China relations.

Gui Congyou: China-Sweden relations are very important to both countries. We hope we will continue to develop friendly exchanges and cooperation in all areas. We hope Sweden will work with china toward the same goal, and develop bilateral relations on the basis of equality, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

Gui Congyou: Have you been to China?

Mira Micic: I have been to Beijing, Shanghai and some other cities several years ago. I was impressed by China's natural scenes.

Gui Congyou: We welcome you and your colleagues to visit China more. Whenever you visit China, you will feel very safe there. In China, you will never experience the kind of brutal treatment by the police that the three Chinese tourists had to suffer.

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