The Chinese Embassy in Sweden has rejected an “apology” from Sweden’s national broadcaster SVT for a controversial comedy skit it aired on three Chinese tourists who were ejected from a Stockholm hotel.
The satirical news program Svenska Nyheter aired a show called “Sinophobia is not ok” on Friday. After taking aim at a family of tourists who were removed from a Swedish hotel earlier this month after attempting to sleep in the lobby, it showed a skit advising Chinese tourists to avoid defecating in public and mistaking pet dogs for lunch. The short clip was uploaded onto Chinese video site Youku.
The embassy condemned the show as racist and xenophobic in a statement on Saturday. It said: “The program breaks the basic moral principles of mankind, and gravely challenges human conscience and is a serious violation of media professional ethics.”
Thomas Hall, head of entertainment at SVT, told SVT News on Sunday that the broadcaster would not apologise for the program. However, in a statement on Thursday, Hall expressed regret for posting the short skit on Youku.
“The purpose of the short segment published on Youku was to gather Chinese reactions. This was a mistake, as the entirety of our message and ambition was then lost,” he said. “We recognise that this may have been an insult, for which we are truly sorry.”
Hall added that the program intended to show how Sinophobia has not gained as much attention in Sweden as other forms of racism.
The embassy said on Tuesday that it would not accept the statement as an apology, “as we have solemnly pointed out that the show viciously insulted China and the Chinese people. Yet Hall’s statements intentionally dodged the racist language and contents in the show. Such statements are nothing but making up excuses and evading the point. We will never accept such an ‘apology’.”
“We once again urge the SVT program staff to see the mistake and make a sincere apology immediately.”
The program has drawn ire from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, who said in a statement on Monday: “It amounts to a gross insult to and vicious attack on China and the Chinese people.”
In recent months, diplomatic relations between Sweden and China have become increasingly fraught. Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai was reportedly seized by Chinese authorities from a Beijing-bound train in January in front of two Swedish diplomats.
Earlier this month, the exiled Dalai Lama gave a public talk in the southern Swedish city of Malmö. China strongly condemns foreign countries that host visits from the Tibetan spiritual leader.