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Gui Minhai Seized in the Presence of Swedish Diplomats

On 20 January, Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai, who was abducted from Thailand in 2015 and was just granted limited freedom in October 2017, was again detained by authorities while in the presence of Swedish diplomats. Gui was traveling from Shanghai to Beijing with two Swedish consular officials to seek medical attention. However, at Jinan station, in Shandong province, plainclothes security agents forcibly took him away. He reappeared three weeks later in a forced confession filmed in front of a group of reporters from pro-Beijing news media, including the South China Morning Post (see Fiskesjö’s op-ed in the current issue). In the forced statement, Gui was coerced into saying that his trip to Beijing was part of a Swedish plot to get him out of China. Chinese authorities have since stated that he is now being held in captivity for leaking state secrets. Gui, a Hong Kong resident and Swedish citizen, was originally abducted from his holiday home in Thailand in October 2015, and brought to China under the pretence of facing charges related to a traffic accident more than a decade ago. In October 2017 he was released under partial house arrest and allowed to communicate with his family using video chat. The Swedish foreign ministry and the European Union have demanded that Beijing release Gui, with Sweden calling the most recent abduction a ‘brutal intervention’. The Chinese government has responded by denouncing Sweden’s ‘irresponsible remarks’ and suggesting that continued protest could threaten bilateral relations. Gui’s case exemplifies the Chinese government’s intensifying crackdown on dissident voices, both in China and globally. China has repatriated thousands of suspected criminals and dissidents from 90 countries, including the US, despite the fact that extradition treaties only exist with 36 nations. The tactics range from abduction to threats aimed at inducing ‘voluntary’ repatriation. NL

(Sources: China Digital Times 1; China Digital Times 2; Foreign Policy; Human Rights Watch; Radio Free Asia; The Washington Post)

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