China has complained to Sweden over a satirical news show on Swedish state television that advised Chinese tourists how to avoid culture clashes in a way that Beijing said insulted the Chinese people.
The satirical programme Svenska Nyheter (Swedish News), was aired a week after police removed three Chinese citizens from a Stockholm hotel. Local media reported they had refused to leave the hotel despite the fact they were not booked to stay there.
The television episode sparked uproar on Chinese social media and an unusually strong response from Beijing.
“The [Svenska Nyheter] anchor’s remarks are full of discrimination, prejudice and provocation against China and other ethnic groups, completely deviating from professional media ethics,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry in a statement on Monday. “We strongly condemn this.”
The ministry said it and the Chinese embassy in Stockholm had already made “solemn representations and strong protests” to Sweden.
In response, SVT entertainment chief Thomas Hall said: “I think it is so apparent that this is comedy, assuming that you know Swedish. But at the same time I understand that if you don’t know Swedish it is possible to misunderstand.”
Following the incident at the hotel on 2 September, China demanded an apology from Sweden and issued a safety alert for its tourists in the country. Beijing said that three tourists had been “brutally abused” by Swedish police on 2 September.
The Zengs, a family of three, had arrived at a hostel in Stockholm around midnight, hours before their booking. They were allowed to wait in the lobby until the staff ordered them to leave and police forcibly ejected them.
Bizarre video footage posted online shows police carrying the group outside, while the son yells in English: “This is killing. This is killing.” Another clip shows the three lying on the ground crying loudly while the mother wails in Chinese: “Save me.”