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Ambassador Gui Congyou Gives Exclusive Interview with SVT on Media Exchanges and the Case of Sayragul Sauytbay
2019/09/06

On 5 September, Ambassador Gui Congyou gave an exclusive interview with Mattias Dellert from SVT Culture News and answered questions on media exchanges and the case of Sayragul Sauytbay. Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Yesterday, SVT Culture News reported on the increased criticism and comments on the Swedish media by the Chinese Embassy. What is your comment on this?

Gui Congyou: I have explained China's position on this issue to many Swedish media on multiple occasions. The media is a bridge between our two countries and two peoples that helps to increase mutual understanding, enhance traditional friendship, and promote broad cooperation in various fields. For the Swedish media to play its due role in serving the fundamental interests of our two countries and two peoples, it is necessary that it reports China's objectively and fairly. Recently, I met a Swedish friend who just came back from China. He said that what he saw in China was completely different from what was reported by some Swedish media, and that he felt like being fooled by the Swedish media. We are willing to communicate with friends from the Swedish media and introduce China to them from an objective and truthful perspective. As to comments that are not objective or fair, or even attack and smear China out of biases, we certainly have to criticize and refute such reports.

Q: What do you want to achieve by commenting on and criticizing the Swedish media? For example, regarding the situation in Hong Kong, the case of Gui Minhai, etc.

Gui Congyou: We refute and make clarifications on the Swedish media's coverage of China so as to introduce to the Swedish people the situation in China objectively. The case of Gui Minhai is a simple matter. He has committed crimes in China, and the Chinese judicial authorities should of course deal with the case according to law. This is just the same with the case when a US rapper broke the law in Sweden and the Swedish judiciary handled it in accordance with Swedish law.

Q: You mean that your comments on and criticisms of the Swedish media are aimed at leading the Swedish media to look at China from a different perspective. Do you think your communication with the Swedish media and the public is successful?

Gui Congyou: In the past 2 years since I took office, I have visited nearly two-thirds of Sweden's counties and had extensive contacts with Swedish people from all walks of life. Their opinions about China are completely different from those of the Swedish media. I don't know if you have been to China. If not, I would like to invite you and your colleagues to China for an interview. I noticed that SVT interviewed Sayragul Sauytbay a few days ago. What she said in the interview are all lies. You have to first figure out what kind of person she is.

Q: How do you know that she is lying?

Gui Congyou: The local authorities in Xinjiang informed us of her situation. Sayragul Sauytbay claims to have worked in a vocational education and training center in Xinjiang, but in fact she only worked as a teacher in a kindergarten and a primary school in Xinjiang and has never worked in a vocational education and training center. She is suspected of credit fraud in Xinjiang and still owes about RMB400,000. In order to evade legal punishment, she illegally fled to Kazakhstan and violated the border control laws of both China and Kazakhstan. You interviewing her and broadcasting her false statements actually make you a shelter of her criminal offences.

Q: So you think SVT broadcast a wrong program?

Gui Congyou: Of course. It is the social responsibility of the media to introduce the real situation and not distribute fake news to the public. In order to escape legal punishment, Sayragul Sauytbay disguised herself as a victim of political persecution and dishonestly win some Swedish people's sympathy. Those people were fooled into getting her to Sweden and providing her with shelter. We hope that the Swedish side will act in accordance with law and repatriate Sayragul Sauytbay to China.

Q: Let us put this case aside and come back to the increased criticism and comments on the Swedish media by the Chinese Embassy. Do you think that the Chinese Embassy has increased its attention to and comments on our China-related reporting?

Gui Congyou: I don't think it is about "increase". It's only that whenever we find Swedish media's reporting seriously inconsistent with the facts, we will have to make clarifications immediately. We must of course fight back immediately vicious attacks against China. If you follow China and want to know China, let me advise you to visit China yourself and do interviews there, instead of listening to the lies of criminals.

Q: I still want to ask what do you want to achieve by increasing comments and criticism on Swedish media.

Gui Congyou: Like I said in the beginning, the aim is to maintain the friendship and strengthen cooperation between China and Sweden, as we hope the Swedish public will know China in a complete, truthful and objective way. With some reporting on China by Swedish media that is not true and hinders friendly cooperation between the two countries, of course we need to clarify and refute. The Sayragul Sauytbay case and Gui Minhai case are two such examples. Swedish friends believe Sweden is a country of rule of law, and a country of rule of law is not supposed to do things that are against the law. A Swedish friend that lived in China for over 30 years told me that those that criticize China on Swedish media do not really know about China. Once again, I would like to invite you and your colleagues to visit China. If you truly care about Xinjiang, then go to China, and see for your own eyes the development in China and Xinjiang. Seeing is believing.

Q: I want to ask again, have you achieved the aim with the comments and questioning on Swedish media?

Gui Congyou: We are working towards this goal. It is hoped that friends from Swedish media will work with us towards the same goal and communicate with us candidly and openly. It is also hoped that those that comment on China will go to China to see the situation there, and use what they see with their own eyes to answer the questions in their minds. Let me take another example. Since 2012 China has started to implement a new development vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. We put environmental protection on top of our agenda and made hard effort to develop wind, hydro, nuclear and solar energy, reducing the share of coal-fired power to less than 60% from 80%, and the air quality in major cities like Beijing has been significantly improved. However, it is hard to believe that some Swedish media recently criticized China for "large increase of share of coal-fired power". We are shocked to see such fake news.

Q: Do you think more criticisms on Swedish media will make them listen to you more?

Gui Congyou: Some Swedish journalists have never been to China, and we are willing to invite them to visit China. My colleagues and I are also willing to communicate with them, and introduce the objective reality of China to them. It is hoped that they will abandon their outdated view or even bias on China. China has achieved a remarkable transformation. China's development is so fast that one will not get an objective picture of China if he or she does not follow its development everyday.

Q: Do you think the increased comments and criticisms are working?

Gui Congyou: I was told by a Swedish journalist that covers China objectively that objective coverage on China on Swedish media is increasing. We hope those from Swedish media that put themselves on the opposition of China will visit China more, and answer the questions in their minds with the real situation in China. This way, your question can be answered.

Q: Why was there an increase of comments and criticisms by the Chinese side on Swedish media in the last couple of years? Is it a new strategy? What is the reason?

Gui Congyou: Since taking office, I saw a lot of stories on China that are not factual. As ambassador, I must present China to the Swedish public in an objective, truthful and complete manner, so that Swedish public will not be deceived by the reports that distort and smear China, as it does not help Sweden to correctly understand China. As ambassador, my mission is to advance friendship and cooperation between our two countries and two peoples. I hope friends from Swedish media will join us in promoting mutual knowledge and understanding between the Chinese and Swedish people, and promoting cooperation. Frankly, some Swedish journalists have never been to China and do not know about the real situation in China, and they listen to the lies by liars like Sayragul Sauytbay. My impression of such Swedish media is that their understanding on China is "they are completely cut off from the world that they have not even heard of the Han dynasty, not to speak of Wei and Jin", as an ancient Chinese prose describes. Last summer, a friend from Swedish media told me after returning from China that his views on China took a U turn. This is the fact.

Q: So you believe Swedish media including SVT are publishing lies?

Gui Congyou: Of course. The reports that triggered our clarification and refutation are all lies. Otherwise we would not have reacted.

Journalist: I have finished my questions. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

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