Sweden Recalls Ambassador to China over Bizarre Dealings on Jailed Hong Kong Bookseller
The diplomat is under investigation for unauthorized talks on the fate of Gui Minhai over the international campai
Sweden’s government has recalled its ambassador to China, Anna Lindstedt, after revelations she took part in secret meetings on the fate of an imprisoned Chinese-born Swede, a bookseller from Hong Kong.
The case concerns 54-year-old Gui Minhai associated with Causeway Bay bookshop and Mighty Current publishing house in Hong Kong, which published “racy” accounts of the lives of Chinese leaders.
Gui Minhai is one of five men connected with the publishing house who disappeared between October and December 2015, and then reappeared in custody on mainland China.
Gui Minhai went missing while on vacation in Thailand, and when he reappeared, he emerged on Chinese state television confessing to a drink driving incident in Ningbo, Zheijiang province, from 2003, a confession that rights activists claimed was not authentic.
Gui served a 2-year sentence, and was released in 2017, only to be re-arrested by Chinese agents in January 2018 on accusations of leaking state secrets abroad.
Gui’s daughter, Angela Gui, presently a Ph.D. student at Cambridge University, UK, has been campaigning internationally for her father’s release.
It was her blog post on the site Medium on Wednesday about a “very strange experience” she had in Stockholm with Swedish Ambassador to China, Anna Lindstedt, on a secret “deal” about her father’s fate that got the EU member diplomat recalled from Beijing.
Ambassador Anna Lindstedt is currently in Stockholm for an investigation by the foreign ministry, with a temporary replacement in the Swedish Embassy in Beijing, The Local Sweden reports.
The daughter of imprisoned bookseller Gui Minhai revealed in her post that she had been invited to a “secret” meeting with Chinese businessmen by the Swedish ambassador.
Angela Gui said she travelled to Stockholm in late January at Lindstedt’s invitation, for a meeting with businessmen who the ambassador said could assist Gui’s father.
“There was a lot of wine, a lot of people, and a lot of increasingly strange questions,” Gui wrote.
“But because Ambassador Lindstedt was present and seemingly supportive of whatever it was that was going on, I kept assuming that this had been initiated by the Swedish Foreign Ministry,” she revealed.
During the meetings, which mostly took place in a hotel lounge only accessible by a key card, the businessmen claimed to be in touch with the Chinese Communist Party, Gui said in her blog post.
At one point they offered to help her father in exchange for Gui’s silence and an end to her campaigning, she wrote.
They also claimed that Lindstedt’s career would be damaged if Gui continued to speak to media, she added.
“Ambassador Lindstedt, who was sat next to me, agreed to the plan. She said that if my father was released, she’d go on Swedish television and speak of the bright future of Sweden-China relations, as well as express regret over the Chinese tourist hotel incident in Stockholm last year, and the subsequent coverage of it on a Swedish comedy show,” Gui wrote.
Lindstedt is said to have been supportive of the deal, and to have told Angela Gui that China was “adopting a new diplomatic line” and that, if she kept campaigning for the release of her father, Gui Minhai, China might “punish Sweden”.
After leaving the meeting, Gui said she was told by foreign ministry officials that they had not been informed of the meeting and were now aware that Lindstedt had been back in Sweden.
“We have got a picture of what happened, we are going to investigate the actions, but we can already say that the ambassador acted incorrectly,” Patric Nilsson, head of the foreign ministry’s press office told SVT Nyheter.
Before her blog post, Angela Gui had referred to the offer made in the meeting in a Svenska Dagbladet interview in early February.
This led the Chinese Embassy in Sweden to release a statement saying that “the Chinese side has never authorized and will not authorize anyone to engage with Gui Minhai’s daughter”.
In January, the Swedish Foreign Ministry announced that Anna Lindstedt would take up a new government role in March working on the implementation of global sustainability goals.
The foreign ministry did not comment on whether her recall to Sweden would affect that appointment, BBC news reports.
Anna Lindstedt was appointed as Sweden’s Ambassador to China back in April 2016 becoming the first female to hold the post.
(Banner image: Swedish Foreign Ministry on Twitter)