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

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 Swedish national broadcaster SVT, appeared to endorse racism against Chinese people and played on certain stereotypes against the nation in a show aired last Friday.

Jesper Rönndahl, the show’s host, said: “Swedes hate racism — as long as we’re not talking about the Chinese, and the Russians, of course. 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, in which a Swedish woman issued the following “warnings”:

  • “We do not poop outside historical 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–t out of you.”

Watch the segment with English subtitles below:

The fallout

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

The Chinese 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 President Xi Jinping.
REUTERS/Fred Dufour/Pool

Chinese state media also piled on the attacks, with the state-run People’s Daily newspaper saying on social media: “Those insulting China must pay the price.”

SVT has since apologized for the program, 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 Swedish program said.

Jesper Rönndahl, the show’s host, tweeted that he had “started a diplomatic crisis with a superpower” after the Chinese embassy’s remarks.

Svenska Nyheter host Jesper Rönndahl mocked Chinese tourists in his show.
SVT Humor/YouTube

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

The family, surnamed Zeng, reportedly arrived about 14 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.

The incident reportedly took place on September 2, but news reports only emerged last Monday.

The Chinese Embassy in Sweden demanded a public investigation into the case, which Sweden decided not to do. The Chinese foreign ministry also issued a safety alert to all Chinese tourists traveling to Sweden.

A Chinese tourist, surnamed Zeng, accusing a Stockholm hostel of “killing” after it refused to let her and her family stay in the lobby after they arrived more than 12 hours early for their booking.

China’s offensive against Sweden

Beijing’s diplomatic spat with Stockholm came after the Dalai Lama, Buddhist spiritual leader exiled from China, 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, was released in 2017, but was arrested again while traveling to Beijing this January.

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