China Envoy Threatens to Ban Swedish Minister Over Gui Minhai Award

China Envoy Threatens to Ban Swedish Minister Over Gui Minhai Award

China Envoy Threatens to Ban Swedish Minister Over Gui Minhai Award

Sweden’s minister for culture defended freedom of speech at a literary award ceremony for detained bookseller Gui Minhai in Stockholm on Friday, after Beijing’s ambassador threatened to ban her from entering China if she attended the prize-giving.

Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen, was abducted in Thailand in 2015 and is now detained in China. When based in Hong Kong, he published books critical of China’s leaders, and the case has soured ties between Sweden and China.

Svenska PEN, a literary organization awarded Gui Minhai the 2019 Tucholsky Prize, praising his work in the service of free speech. An empty chair symbolically represented the writer at the ceremony in Stockholm on Friday.

Giving a speech at the event, minister of culture Amanda Lind said freedom of expression was a right in Sweden.

“Those in power should never allow themselves to attack free artistic expression or freedom of speech,” daily Svenska Dagbladet quoted Lind saying.

China’s ambassador to Stockholm had earlier threatened that Lind would be banned from entering China if she attended the ceremony.

“If Amanda Lind, in spite of our advice, attends this ceremony, then no government representatives responsible for cultural affairs will be welcome to China,” Chinese Ambassador Gui Congyou told Swedish news agency TT.

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