Sun, Oct 06, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Beijing pressure on Swedish hotel does not hinder Taipei Mission celebration

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Representative to Sweden Daniel Liao, second right, and Swedish-Taiwanese Parliamentarian Association Vice Chairman Mats Berglund, second left, attend a celebration held by the Taipei Mission in Sweden at the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm on Thursday in anticipation of Double Ten National Day.

Photo taken from the Taiwan in Sweden Facebook page

Despite pressure from the Chinese embassy in Sweden, the Taipei Mission in Sweden on Thursday held its National Day celebration at a museum in Stockholm, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, after Swedish media reported that Beijing asked a hotel not to lend its space to the mission.

The mission had for more than a decade staged celebrations for Double Ten National Day at the Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm.

Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported on Thursday that after last year’s celebration, Sheraton’s management told Representative to Sweden Daniel Liao (廖東周) that the Chinese embassy had expressed concern and the hotel would not lend its venue to the mission any more.

Holding this year’s National Day celebration at the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm instead, the mission shared photographs on Facebook on Friday showing Liao and Swedish-Taiwanese Parliamentarian Association Vice Chairman Mats Berglund cutting a cake together to mark the celebration.

Asked for comment yesterday, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that the Chinese embassy in Sweden has repeatedly intimidated Swedish media and non-governmental agencies into following Beijing’s policies, revealing its lack of democratic ideals and poor manners, and sparking criticism from the global community.

The ministry condemned Beijing’s pre-emptory suppression and expressed concern over the case to Swedish authorities, she said.

Despite the Chinese embassy’s move, the Taipei mission still held this year’s celebration with an animated atmosphere and hosted more than 200 guests, including Berglund, Swedish business representatives, academics and overseas compatriots, she said.

Chinese suppression of Taiwan’s events would be condemned by the Taiwanese public and the global community, Ou said, adding that some Swedish journalists have urged their foreign ministry to raise concerns over the Chinese embassy’s infringement of others’ freedoms or to list Chinese Ambassador to Sweden Gui Congyou (桂從友) as an unwelcome figure.

The Chinese embassy on Tuesday issued a statement on what it called “anti-China lies” in a Swedish media outlet’s report on Xinjiang.

Since August 2017, Gui has set out on a “truth crusade” against several Swedish media outlets, but “journalists are not subject to censorship” in Sweden, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.

In RSF’s World Press Freedom Index this year, Sweden ranked third after Norway and Finland, Taiwan ranked 42nd and China placed 177th out of 180 countries and regions.

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