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Swedish broadcaster: Satirical China sketch ‘misunderstood’

September 25, 2018

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden’s public broadcaster said Tuesday it regretted that a satirical show it aired about China offended some — but stressed that it would not apologize to Beijing for the sketch.

Sveriges Television or SVT issued a statement about last week’s news sketch after Beijing complained that the show, which featured a “do’s and don’ts” guide for Chinese tourists in Sweden, “affronted China.”

The show referred to a recent complaint from Beijing about the way police removed a Chinese family from a Stockholm hotel and allegedly mistreated them. SVT said the satire also featured a map “where Taiwan did not appear to belong to China.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday the program “affronted China” and “amounts to a gross insult to and vicious attack on China and the Chinese people.”

Geng said China reserved the right to take further actions but did not specify.

The Swedish broadcaster said its sketch aimed to comment satirically and humorously, and to highlight “Sinophobia” in Sweden.

It said it made a mistake when it subsequently stream segments of the sketch to Chinese online video site YouKu. “The whole of our message was lost, and we can understand that it saddened individuals and that, we regret,” it said in a statement.

It added however that SVT will not apologize for the sketch itself. “I assume that Chinese authorities are able to distinguish between satire expressions and news,” program director Jan Helin said.

China has reacted angrily to the Sept. 2 hostel eviction incident, condemning Swedish police for what it called the “brutal abuse” of the tourists. Swedish police have denied any wrongdoing.

Tensions between Stockholm and Beijing have increased over China’s detention of a Chinese-born Swedish national on suspicion of leaking state secrets.

China has rebuked Sweden for demanding the release of Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhai, 53, who was taken off a train by police in eastern China on Jan. 20 while in the company of two Swedish diplomats with whom he was traveling to Beijing.

In July, a Swedish court of law found a man guilty of spying for China by gathering information on Tibetans who had fled to Sweden and sentenced him to 22 months in jail.

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Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

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