Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström issued the demand. China’s Foreign Ministry responded saying it did not know where the prisoner was, but suggested he broke the law. Party-controlled Global Times also cast doubts about him. Stockholm’s stance is something new. Human rights violations tend not to be reported and China cares little about international reactions.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Sweden’s foreign minister has asked for the release one of its citizens, book publisher Gui Minhai, who was snatched by Chinese police on a trip to Beijing for a medical visit under the eyes of two Swedish diplomatic staff.
“We expect the immediate release of our fellow citizen, and that he be given the opportunity to meet Swedish diplomatic and medical staff,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said in a statement.
The latter comes a few hours after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Ministry had no information of Gui’s whereabouts, and suggested that Swedish diplomats had breached the law.
“China has always provided convenience and facilitation to officials at foreign embassies or consulates in accordance with international laws,” she explained. “At the same time, any foreigners in China, including officials at the foreign embassies or consulates in China, should not violate international law or Chinese law.”
Curiously, Chinese Foreign Ministry later removed the questions and replies about Gui Minhai from its transcript of the Tuesday news briefing.
In an editorial late on Tuesday, the English-language edition of state-run tabloid Global Times said that if Gui had been taken away there must have been a reason. “China is advancing the rule of law and it is incredible that a person can be taken away by police without reason,” the article read.
Sweden’s stance is something new. Months ago, German ambassador Michael Clauss called for the release of the bishop of Wenzhou, Mgr Peter Shao Zhumin. But in general, the international community has long put up with China's violations of human rights.
“These questions are no longer in the centre of [bilateral] relationships,” said Renmin University European studies specialist Wang Yiwei. More importantly, China cares little about how others respond.