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Ambassador Gui Congyou Gives a Written Interview with Chinese Language Media in Sweden

On 29 December 2018, Ambassador Gui Congyou gave a written interview with three Chinese language media in Sweden. Following is the full text of the interview.

Q: Distinguished Ambassador Gui, how would you comment on the development of China-Sweden relations in 2018?

Gui Congyou: The year 2018 that is about to pass is an important year to both China and Sweden. It is the opening year of China’s efforts to comprehensively implement the guidelines set forth in the 19th CPC National Congress, and it also marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. Sweden held its quadrennial general election in September 2018. Over the past year, China-Sweden relations maintained overall steady growth, with new results in practical cooperation in various areas.

First, exchanges and mutual visits are maintained at all levels and fronts. The foreign services of the two countries kept regular communications. Minister for Infrastructure of Sweden Tomas Eneroth led a delegation to attend the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai in the first half of November. Delegations from departments of practical cooperation and provinces and cities from China and Sweden maintained frequent mutual visits. There were also close exchanges between the business, science and education communities of our two countries.

Second, economic and trade cooperation have continued to grow fast. From January to October this year, trade between China and Sweden increased by 17%, reaching USD 12.4 billion, with both the two-way trade and Sweden’s surplus on China expected to reach a new high. China-Sweden Belt and Road cooperation has scored new progress, with China Eastern Airlines opening a direct flight linking Shanghai and Stockholm and the inauguration of the China-Europe Freight Train connecting Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province and Insjön, Dalarna County. During the first China International Import Expo, contracts worth USD 500 million were signed between Swedish and Chinese companies.

Third, a sound momentum of exchanges and cooperation continued in areas of science, culture and education. Renowned Chinese scientist Chen Zhu was awarded the Sjöberg Prize. China Association for Science and Technology and IVA signed a cooperation agreement. The First Chinese Language Cultural Festival was held in Stockholm’s landmark King’s Garden. A number of performances were put on by Chinese art troupes in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Linköping, which were warmly welcomed by the local people.

Fourth, close communication and coordination was carried out between China and Sweden in multilateral platforms. In a world full of uncertainties, China and Sweden firmly uphold multilateralism, advocate free trade, oppose unilateralism and protectionism. Our two countries conducted effective coordination in multilateral frameworks such as the UN Security Council, maintained sound communication on hotspot issues such as the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Yemen issue, and worked together for world peace, stability and development.

At the same time, we see that in the past year China-Sweden relations are troubled by some negative factors. Swedish police’s maltreatment of three Chinese tourists harmed their basic human rights such as their personal safety and dignity. SVT made and broadcast a China-insulting program, which led to strong indignation and protest of the entire Chinese people and the Chinese community in Sweden and also seriously damaged Sweden’s image in China. We continue to urge the Swedish side to sincerely and openly apologize for the above-mentioned issues. Some Swedish politicians, media and forces, without knowing the real situation of China, made unfounded accusations against China and even attempted to grossly interfere in China’s domestic affairs. These negative factors undoubtedly created unnecessary obstacles for China-Sweden friendly cooperation, which we firmly oppose.

In general, my impression is that the mainstream of China-Sweden relations is friendly cooperation. Promoting positive development of our relations are the shared hope of our two peoples, and there is great potential and bright prospects for deepening China-Sweden cooperation. The Chinese side remains committed to growing China-Sweden friendly cooperation. We hope the Swedish side will work with us towards the same goal on the basis of mutual respect and equality, and see past differences in search of common ground and win-win cooperation, so as to create favorable conditions for sound and steady growth of China-Sweden relations.

Q: There is something new that the Swedish media learned about you, that is you like debating with the Swedish media and do not shy away from pointing out their mistakes. What do you think about it?

Gui Congyou: Media are an important bridge between the two peoples, which play an important role for Chinese and Swedish people to know more about each other. I noticed that as China develops rapidly and China-Sweden cooperation continues to expand, Swedish media have shown an increasing interest in China. There has been not a few objective coverage on China, including China’s achievements of 40 years of reform and opening up, as well as mutually beneficial cooperation in business, investment, innovation, energy conservation and environmental protection between the two countries. Such reports help the Swedish public to understand China in a complete and accurate manner, which is conducive to the growth of China-Sweden relations.

At the same time, there are still some Swedish media and journalists that look at China through colored lenses, and make unfounded accusations against China out of their bias, stereotype, ignorance and arrogance. The China in their words has nothing that even remotely resembles the China in reality. These media only allow themselves to distort and smear China, but forbid others from speaking about China’s achievements and positions. Such behaviors go against basic journalistic values, represent nothing but media tyranny and dictatorship, and hinder the growth of relations between our two countries.

In order for the Swedish public not to be misled by the false reports and friendly cooperation between the two peoples not to be affected, we have no choice but to point out their mistakes, speak the truth and make our positions heard. We welcome constructive suggestions and advice from Swedish friends. But when it comes to manufactured accusations that are totally false and purely out of bias and hostility, we will not hesitate to fight back. When we point out their mistakes, our hope is to have certain media and journalists join the people that promote friendly cooperation between China and Sweden, is to let the Swedish people’s right to know be honored, so that they will know a true and objective China. It is hoped that certain Swedish media and journalists will lay down their arrogance and bias, truly follow journalistic professionalism, and look at and cover China in a fair and objective manner. As Ambassador, my door to conversation is always open.

Q: 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Sweden. How do you look at the prospects of China-Sweden relations in this critical historical period? What major events are expected to occur?

Gui Congyou: 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It is also a critical year for the country to secure the final victory of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and realize its first centenary goal. We will build on the experience and fruits of reform and opening up in the past 40 years and forge ahead with ever stronger resolution. We will adhere to the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, and open development that is for everyone, and go on making efforts for the fulfillment of China's two centenary goals and the realization of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. These efforts will definitely bring important new opportunities for promoting China-Sweden relations.

In 2019, China and Sweden need to conduct more dialogues and exchanges on various levels and in various areas, increase mutual communications and enhancing mutual understanding. At present, a new Swedish government is still in the making. After a new government is formed in Sweden, we will be willing to have in-depth exchanges with the Swedish side to jointly draw plans for the development of our bilateral relations in the next stage. The two sides need to continue expanding practical cooperation in various fields, implementing cooperation consensus already reached, and actively explore cooperation in areas including innovation, green economy, energy conservation and environment protection, and high-end manufacturing, in an effort to seek mutually beneficial results and give our peoples a stronger sense of gain.

We stands ready to work with our Swedish friends, taking the opportunity of celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 69th anniversary of the establishment of China-Sweden relations, to carry forward our traditional friendship, give full play to the potential of bilateral cooperation, and inject positive energy and new impetus into China-Sweden relations.

Q: What do you want to say to the Chinese community in Sweden?

Gui Congyou: In 2018, the Embassy has resolutely implemented the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, remained committed to the principle of diplomacy for the people, earnestly carried out the Party’s and the Government's policies to benefit overseas Chinese, and work hard to turn the motherland’s care for the vast number of overseas Chinese into actual benefits. The Embassy highly appreciated and actively supported the local Chinese community in their efforts to build a harmonious overseas Chinese society, carry out Chinese language education, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of compatriots in Sweden, and implemented a series of measures to facilitate application for consular documents. In 2019, the consular section of the Embassy will be officially renamed Consular and Overseas Chinese Affairs Section. This change highlights the increasing importance of overseas Chinese affairs in the overall work of the Embassy and reflects the determination of the Embassy to better serve the local Chinese community. I hope that through our efforts, the vast number of Chinese people living in Sweden will have a greater sense of gain and happiness.

The grand process of China's 40 years of reform and opening up has fully proved that the vast group of overseas Chinese are important witnesses, participants and contributors to reform and opening up. It is hoped that the overseas Chinese compatriots will seize the historical opportunity of a new round of reform and opening up of China, continue to carry forward the glorious tradition of patriotism, firmly safeguard China’s national unity, care for and support the development of China, actively promote pragmatic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between China and Sweden, and promote Chinese culture, so as to make new contributions to securing the final victory of building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way and realizing the Chinese dream of national renewal.

2019 is just around the corner. I would like to take this opportunity to express my best wishes for the New Year to the Chinese community in Sweden. I hope you will all enjoy a better life in the new year by taking advantage of the development momentum of China and sharing the dividends of China’s prosperity and revival.

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