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Ambassador Gui Congyou Gives Exclusive Interview to Valdemar Lonnroth from Göteborgs-Posten

On 13 December, Ambassador Gui Congyou gave an exclusive interview to Valdemar Lonnroth from Göteborgs-Posten in the Chinese Consulate-General in Gothenburg. Following is the full text of the interview:

Ambassador Gui: This is my first visit to Gothenburg since becoming ambassador. China and Sweden have a long history of friendship, and Gothenburg witnessed one of the first days of our friendly exchanges. Over 270 years ago, the "Gothenburg" vessel sailed all the way to China, and returned Sweden loaded with porcelain, tea and silk, which marked the beginning of China-Sweden "maritime silk road" cooperation. Now China is working actively to advance the Belt and Road Initiative, which is a public good provided by China to the world. The main purpose of BRI is to carry forward the historical and cultural value of the ancient silk road and expand cooperation with countries along the route. My visit to Gothenburg is also to carry forward the historical and cultural value of the maritime silk road pioneered by the "Gothenburg" vessel and promote cooperation between China and Sweden in the new era.

In the past two days, I met with Västra Götaland Acting Governor Lisbeth Schultze, Acting Parliament Speaker of Gothenburg Jahja Zeqiraj and President of West Sweden Chamber of Commerce Johan Trouvé, visited Volvo Cars and SKF. Important agreements on strengthening the Belt and Road cooperation between China and Sweden were reached during these visits. Göteborgs-Posten is the largest newspaper in the Gothenburg region. I hope you will actively support China-Sweden Belt and Road cooperation, and build a bridge not only between China and Gothenburg, but also China and Sweden.

Q: Can you be more specific about the agreements you reached with western Sweden.

Gui Congyou: Both local government officials and business people proposed the idea of opening direct flights and shipping routes connecting Gothenburg and China. We support it and will work actively for it. Commerce Chamber of West Sweden is the oldest and largest commerce chamber in Sweden, with more than 3,000 member companies. We reached an agreement to help its member companies to expand exchanges and mutual visits with Chinese companies, to find new cooperation opportunities between them. As I said, Gothenburg is the birthplace of trade between China and Sweden. Now China is pursuing a new development vision of innovative, coordinated, green and open development that is for all, with a commitment to high-quality development and delivering a better life to nearly 1.4 billion Chinese people. As the first country to propose the idea of sustainable development, Sweden is a front-runner in innovation. China and Sweden have very similar development philosophies, which generates opportunities for greater cooperation and communication between our companies. China hopes to expand cooperation with western Sweden in innovation, sustainable development, environmental protection, bio-medicine and artificial intelligence, so as to add strength to the development of our two countries.

Q: Geely's investment in Volvo is of great interest to the people of Gothenburg. How will Chinese companies develop in Gothenburg in the future?

Gui Congyou: Sweden was the first Western Country to build diplomatic relations with China and also one of the first Western countries to sign an intergovernmental agreement on economic, trade and scientific cooperation with China. Swedish companies have long been actively engaged in China's economic and social development especially in China's reform and opening-up, making active contributions to China's development. Since reform and opening-up, Chinese companies have been rapidly growing for 40 years, giving them a good position to invest abroad. We encourage and support Chinese companies to invest in Gothenburg, which is also a return for Swedish investment in China. Geely-Volvo cooperation is not only a successful example for China-Sweden cooperation, but also for China-Europe cooperation. We encourage Chinese companies to follow this example and invest more in Gothenburg. Chinese investments are conducted by companies and follow market rules. We also ask Chinese investors to follow Sweden's industrial policies, and abide by local laws and regulations. We hope the Swedish government and Gothenburg government will create a good investment environment for Chinese companies in the same way the Chinese Government makes efforts to welcome Swedish investment in China. If Göteborgs-Posten and yourself have good investment proposals, please inform the Chinese companies.

Q: What do you think of the business environment in western Sweden and Sweden as a whole?

Gui Congyou: I believe it is very good. Sweden has always stood for free trade, and against protectionism. The open attitude to foreign investment is very conducive to attracting Chinese investment to Gothenburg and Sweden.

Q: On the subject of trade, what do you think of trade relations between China and the US right now?

Gui Congyou: As globalization develops, China maintains close trade relations with countries around the world, including the US. China is committed to open development, multilateralism, and is against protectionism, unilateralism and trade war. Important agreements have been reached between China and the US to end the trade war, under the personal leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Trump. Now teams from both sides are negotiating in accordance with the consensus between the two presidents, working actively to put a stop to the trade war. That said, the trade war was started by the US, and China had to respond with due measures. The US side, I believe, also realizes the harm of a trade war to itself.

Q: Speaking of trade balance, what are your views on Sweden's surplus with China?

Gui Congyou: In recent years, trade between China and Sweden grew rapidly. Last year, trade increased by nearly 20%, hitting a new high at USD 15 billion. Sweden gained surplus with China for the first time in 25 years, with a surplus of USD 900 million. This year, trade surged by another 17%, reaching USD 12.4 billion from January through October, and is expected to record a new high this year. Sweden's surplus continues to grow, already reaching USD 900 million in the first 10 months and going for USD one billion this year, which we welcome. Set to become the largest market in the world, China is working actively for a new round of open development. We need high-quality products to meet the demand for China's economic development and deliver a better life for the Chinese people. Following President Xi Jinping's proposal, China hosted the first China International Import Expo in November. When it is common for countries around the world to host Export Expos, China's initiative of an Import Expo is a pioneering undertaking. The reason for hosting the Expo is to expand imports of high-quality products from countries around the world including Sweden. During the Expo, Swedish companies signed contracts worth USD 500 million with China. Undoubtedly, Sweden's surplus with China will continue to expand, as it is in line with China's efforts to pursue open development, high-quality development and meet people's need for a better life.

Q: Is it true that you bought a new car in Gothenburg?

Gui Congyou: Yes. Volvo is a Swedish brand, and Geely-Volvo is a Chinese company. I hope to make my contributions to the development of Geely-Volvo.

Q: What is your overall impression on Sweden?

Gui Congyou: Sweden is a highly-developed Western country that created the world-known Swedish model. But in an age of globalization, the Swedish model with a track record of success in the past needs to adapt itself to the trend of globalization. I believe Swedish people will make a decision that suits their interests. In 1971, Sweden became the first country to propose the concept of sustainable development, and maintained a leading position in the world in areas of innovative, green and environmentally friendly development. There is a lot in Sweden worth learning for other countries including China. On the other hand, some Swedish people did not keep pace with China's development, especially China's transformation in the last 40 years since reform and opening-up. Some Swedish people have deep bias and stereotype against China. My colleagues and I have actively talked with these people, in an effort to present a true and real China to them. We encourage those that do not know much about China to go to China and experience China's development. We hope they will become advocates for and participants in China-Sweden friendly cooperation, and join us in advancing cooperation between our two countries.

Q: When Swedish media cover stories about China, such as the mistreatment of Chinese tourists by Swedish police or criticize China, you will stand out and criticize these stories. What do you think of this?

Gui Congyou: The Chinese tourists, without breaking any Swedish law, were mistreated by Swedish police. Their security and dignity were harmed. We firmly protect the security and legal rights and interests of every Chinese citizen abroad. The mistreatment of Chinese tourists by Swedish police damaged the image of Sweden in China, hurting tourism cooperation between China and Sweden. Now, the number of Chinese tourists in Sweden has dropped sharply. We hope the Swedish side will take effective measures to repair Sweden's image in China. We once again urge Swedish police to sincerely apologize to the three Chinese tourists and restore the Chinese tourists' confidence in Sweden. Some stories about China created by Swedish media are far from being objective and true. They are full of bias, stereotype and ill-intentioned criticism and they sometimes even viciously attack, without any ground, the policies of the Chinese Communist Party and Government. In their eyes, the same thing can be done by other countries, but not China. For example, we know that face recognition technology is used in New York airport, but when China does the same, it will draw criticism and attacks. Why? Take another example, to make our cities safer, China learned from the experience of more than 50 cities around the world and installed cameras in public spaces. Such a move is to maintain security and improve urban management, a move that is welcomed by people around China, as it makes them feel safer and happier. But such a good thing that makes Chinese people's life better is viciously attacked by some Swedish media. In such a situation, while we are always willing to have friendly conversations with Swedish media, when it comes to false, hostile and unfair accusations, we will not hesitate to fight back. We hope Swedish media will cover China in an objective, truthful and complete manner, building a bridge of friendly exchanges between Chinese and Swedish people.

Q: Swedish media reports focus heavily on Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, asking China to release him. What are your views on that?

Gui Congyou: I maintain close communication with the Swedish government, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and parliamentarians over the Gui Minhai case. Gui Minhai repeatedly broke laws in China and Sweden. Regarding his crimes at Gothenburg University, I suggest that you take a look at the archives in the university. When he worked for GU, he tricked over 100 Chinese students to come to Sweden for MBA diplomas, resulting in the suicides of two Chinese students. The MBA diploma he promised the Chinese students was nothing but a lie, because it does not even exist in Sweden, neither back then nor today. If you are interested to know more about it, please find the archives in GU or see the reports about the case by Gothenburg media when it happened. To escape the punishment of Swedish law, Gui Minhai fled back to China. In his hometown Ningbo, on a late night in 2003 he killed a young Chinese female university student when he was drunk driving and fled the site. To escape the sanctions of Chinese law, he forged an ID to flee. In October 2015, he went back to China and turned himself in. He was sentenced to two years by Chinese authorities according to Chinese law. After completing his term in prison in October 2017, Gui Minhai said he did not want to get back to Sweden but would rather stay in his hometown Ningbo to spend the Chinese New Year with his mother who was over 80 years old. During his stay, he committed other crimes. The Chinese competent authorities are handling the case according to China's law and legal procedure. Such a criminal with a long record of crimes was labeled by some Swedish people as a "human rights activist". They groundlessly asked the Chinese Government to release him, which totally goes against the principle of rule of law. China is a country of rule of law, where all people are equal before the law. Those who arbitrarily criticize and attack China over the Gui Minhai case and ask for his release are ignorant of law. We hope they will respect the Chinese authorities handling the case according to law, instead of giving shelter for crimes.

Q: The Swedish government has also joined those calling for the release of Gui Minhai. How will it affect China-Sweden relations?

Gui Congyou: Without any doubt, it is wrong for the Swedish government to disrespect Chinese authorities handling the case according to law. It is not conducive to friendly cooperation between China and Sweden.

Q: Western Sweden is the economic center of the country, and many companies in this region cooperate well with China. But there are also some negative political factors affecting such cooperation in western Sweden, including Gothenburg. In general, would you say relations between the two countries are straining?

Gui Congyou: Some Swedish people take wrong positions. We hope they will respect facts, respect Chinese authorities handling the case according to law and create facilitating conditions for friendship and economic cooperation between China and Sweden, rather than create obstacles.

Q: What do you think of China-Sweden relations in the next five to ten years?

Gui Congyou: Like I said, Sweden is the first Western country to establish diplomatic ties with China, and friendship between our two peoples goes way back. In the new era, the development philosophies of China and Sweden are highly compatible, and I hope our two countries will seize the new historic opportunity to continue to expand friendly cooperation in all areas. We hope Sweden will work towards the same goal with China and create favorable conditions for friendly exchanges and cooperation so as to advance sound growth of China-Sweden relations. This is our good faith.

Q: Is there anything that you want to add, such as your impression on Sweden?

Gui Congyou: My mission as ambassador, including Consul-General Gu Hui's mission, is to advance friendly cooperation between China and Sweden. My visit to Gothenburg made me more convinced that China and Sweden are presented with a historic opportunity to advance cooperation across the board. I hope to work with the Swedish side to build bridges for regions and companies of our two countries, and I hope people from all sectors of Sweden will become strong advocates and active participants in China-Sweden cooperation. We hope to continue communications with you, Göteborgs-Posten and other Swedish journalists, and make contributions to China-Sweden relations. Next time I come to Gothenburg or you come to Stockholm, we can continue this discussion. You and your colleagues are very welcome to visit China and see China with your own eyes, so that you can cover China in a more objective and truthful manner and present a real China to the Swedish readers. Please convey my sincere greetings and best wishes to people in Gothenburg and readers of Göteborgs-Posten.

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