Swedish TV satire on Chinese tourists sparks Beijing protest

FILE PHOTO: A general view of Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm, Sweden, May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - China complained to Sweden on Monday over a satirical news show on Swedish state television that advised Chinese tourists how to avoid culture clashes in a way that Beijing said insulted the Chinese people.

The satire program Svenska Nyheter (Swedish News), was aired a week after police removed three Chinese citizens from a Stockholm hotel which, local media reported, they had refused to leave although they were not booked to stay there.

The episode sparked uproar on Chinese social media and an unusually strong response from Beijing.

“The (Svenska Nyheter) anchor’s remarks are full of discrimination, prejudice and provocation against China and other ethnic groups, completely deviating from professional media ethics,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement on Monday. “We strongly condemn this.”

The Ministry said it and the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm had already made “solemn representations and strong protests” to the Swedish side from Beijing and Stockholm.

In response, SVT entertainment chief Thomas Hall said: “I think it is so apparent that this is comedy, assuming that you know Swedish. But at the same time I understand that if you don’t know Swedish it is possible to misunderstand.”

Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom in Stockholm and Vincent Lee and Min Zhang in Beijing