STOCKHOLM – Bookseller’s sentence intensifies tensions with China

The diplomatic and political relations between Sweden and China have hit rock bottom after China sentenced bookseller Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen since the 1990s, to ten years in prison.

Gui Minhai, a 55-year-old bookstore owner in Hong Kong, has been a critic of the ruling communist party and was selling books painting a negative picture of the party elite.

It is believed that Chinese agents were behind his first abduction in Thailand in 2015. Since then, Gui was released on house arrest in Ningbo but was later detained again.

This week, the Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court held that Gui Minhai had “provided intelligence overseas”, a verdict which has been strongly condemned by Amnesty International and the Swedish government.

Foreign Minister Ann Linde told Swedish Television that Sweden had no information about the trial beforehand and had had no access to the charges against the Swedish citizen.

Sweden will be demanding Gui Minhai’s release and will use all diplomatic channels and tools to protest, the minister added.

Yet, given the close economic ties between the two countries, it looks like it will be even harder to solve the issue.

For example, the car manufacturer Volvo is currently owned by the Chinese. However, the population, at least, is not as happy with China, given that 70% of Swedes saw China in a negative light last year compared to 52% a year earlier, according to a survey carried out by the Pew Research Centre.  (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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