Beijing calls Swedish satire show racist after it warned Chinese tourists not to eat dogs

  • A Swedish satirical TV show last week appeared to mock Chinese tourists, warning them not to mistake dogs for food or to defecate in public.
  • China’s embassy in Sweden and China’s foreign ministry accused the show of racism and demanded an apology.
  • The show’s broadcaster has since apologised. The host tweeted in Swedish that he “started a diplomatic crisis with a superpower.”
  • The show came after a family of Chinese tourists accused Swedish authorities of brutality after they were removed from a hostel that wouldn’t let them spend the night in the lobby.
  • Diplomatic relations between Beijing and Stockholm appear to be at a standstill, as the Dalai Lama visited Sweden earlier this month and China continues to hold a Swedish citizen in custody.

Beijing has accused a Swedish satirical TV show of racism after it appeared to mock Chinese tourists and warned them not to mistake dogs for food.

“Svenska Nyheter,” a weekly program on the Swedish national broadcaster SVT, appeared to endorse racism against Chinese people and play on certain stereotypes against the nation in a show aired last Friday.

“Swedes hate racism – as long as we’re not talking about the Chinese and the Russians, of course,” said Jesper Rönndahl, the show’s host. “No politically correct campaign in the world can eliminate the Swedes’ hatred for the Russians. And that is probably because most of Russia is in Asia. They are almost Chinese.”

The show also aired a joke informational program aimed at Chinese tourists during which a Swedish woman issued several “warnings,” including:

  • “We do not poop outside historic buildings.”
  • “And if you see someone who’s out walking a dog, it’s not because they just bought lunch.”
  • “Chinese are very welcome to the Kingdom of Sweden. But if you can’t behave, we’ll kick the s— out of you.”

Watch the segment with English subtitles below:

The fallout

China has accused SVT and Rönndahl of racism and demanded an apology from the network.

China’s embassy in Sweden said in a Saturday statement that SVT and Rönndahl “spread and advocate racism and xenophobia outright, and openly provoke and instigate racial hatred and confrontation targeting at China and some other ethnic groups.”

It added: “The program breaks the basic moral principles of mankind, and gravely challenges human conscience and is a serious violation of media professional ethics.”

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said in a Monday statement that the program “amounts to a gross insult to and vicious attack on China and the Chinese people.”

Chinese state media also piled on, with the state-run People’s Daily newspaper saying on social media that “those insulting China must pay the price,” according to CNN.

SVT has since apologised, with an executive telling the Hong Kong Free Press that the program “was a mistake, as the entirety of our message and ambition was then lost.”

“We recognise that this may have been an insult, for which we are truly sorry,” the executive said in the statement.

Rönndahl tweeted on Saturday, after the embassy’s remarks, that he had “started a diplomatic crisis with a superpower,” according to a translation.

Sweden Svenska Nyheter jesper ronndahlSVT Humour/YouTubeThe ‘Svenska Nyheter’ host Jesper Rönndahl mocked Chinese tourists during the show.

Friday’s show addressed another recent source of contention between China and Sweden: Beijing’s accusation that Swedish police “brutally abused” a family of Chinese tourists by forcibly ejecting them from a Stockholm hostel.

The family, surnamed Zeng, were said to have arrived several hours before their booking and refused to leave the hotel’s lobby until police carried them out of the building.

Video footage showed the family crying on the streets and accusing the hostel of “killing” them.

China’s embassy in Sweden said the incident took place on September 2, but news reports emerged last week.

The embassy demanded a public investigation into the case, though Sweden has refused. China’s foreign ministry also issued a safety alert to all Chinese tourists travelling to Sweden.

Sweden china touristCGTN/YouTubeChinese tourists with the surname Zeng accused a Stockholm hostel of ‘killing’ after it refused to let them stay in the lobby after they arrived several hours before their booking.

China’s clash with Sweden

Beijing’s diplomatic spat with Stockholm came after the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, visited the Scandinavian country earlier this month.

China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist and has long sought to limit his influence around the world.

Beijing also continues to hold in its custody Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen who sold books critical of China’s leadership in Hong Kong.

Gui vanished from his holiday home in Thailand in late 2015 and was released last year, but he was arrested again while travelling to Beijing this January.

By Alexandra Ma


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