Showing posts with label gui_minhai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gui_minhai. Show all posts

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Swedish citizen Gui Minhai has been held by China for three years and Sweden has been super weird about it

Untitled
Gui Minhai, Martin Schibbye, Johan Persson, Peter Dahlin


Taipei-based Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson held a talk last week on the case of Gui Minhai. Gui is a Swedish citizen abducted from Thailand by the Chinese government who, beyond some limited contact with family and Swedish diplomats, has been held basically incommunicado. In fact, the talk itself coincided with the date when Gui had been officially held for exactly three years. 

The most informative part of Olsson's talk was his description of what Sweden is doing (or not doing) to get him back. While they are highly involved in closed-door, quiet talks with Chinese officials, it seems odd that these talks are indeed so "quiet": not only has the government not been in regular contact with Gui's daughter, but the case seems to be far more low-profile than it ought to.

This weird silence can be understood in comparison to the government's reaction to two other Swedish journalists who were similarly kidnapped and held for over a year in a foreign country on trumped-up charges. Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye spent over 400 days in an Ethiopian jail for essentially doing their jobs. Similarly, Gui had broken no laws in Hong Kong, where his books (which were semi-biographical tabloid fodder about Chinese leaders) were published, and was in Bangkok when he was taken. Like Persson and Schibbye, he is a Swedish citizen.

This is even more eyebrow-raising, as other European countries (most notably Germany, according to Olsson, but including much of the continent) have not only more publicly called for Gui's release, but have tried to work together to collectively take public action. And yet, Sweden stays on the path of "quiet diplomacy", even though it doesn't appear to be working. Bad publicity scares China. A few polite Swedish diplomats? Yeah I don't think so. 

But in Persson and Schibbye's case, there was an uproar in Sweden and the government much more transparently and openly feuded with Ethiopia over their detainment. What's more, Swedish officials were regularly in contact with Persson and Schibbye's family members.

Why are they raising much less of a fuss in dealing with China over Gui Minhai? Why are they not in regular contact with Angela Gui (his daughter)? When Gui was snatched a second time from a Chinese train under the noses of Swedish diplomats who were taking him to Beijing for medical care, why did the reaction seem so muted?

In the international media as well, while the case has been reported by major outlets such as the BBC and the Guardian, the average person (including the average Swedish person, I'd gather) doesn't even know that this is happening. To even your typical well-traveled educated European, the idea that China would abduct foreign nationals in foreign countries might even seem farfetched. But that's exactly what they've done.

The suggested answer is that China is a powerful country, both politically and economically. Ethiopia means little to Sweden; there are fewer risks with starting an openly critical campaign to get abducted citizens back.

I suggest an even more obvious answer. Here is a photo of Swedish citizens with Swedish names, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye:



Wikimedia Commons

And here is a photo of Swedish citizen with a Chinese name, Gui Minhai:
Screen Shot 2018-10-22 at 12.27.48 PM
A screen grab of a screen grab - not many photos are available


Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Do you think it could be...?

Yeah, I do.

The rest of Europe, as noted above, seems to understand the gravity of the situation. I have to wonder why the Swedish government doesn't.

Certainly, China wants the world to think that Gui is Chinese and this is a Chinese matter. Gui is not Chinese; he may have been born in Ningbo, but China doesn't recognize dual nationality. The day Gui became Swedish is the day he stopped being Chinese. Regardless, Chinese state thugs forced Gui to say publicly that he wanted to renounce Swedish citizenship and he "slammed the country" on television. (It is certain that this was a forced statement; there is no possibility that this is truly how Gui feels about the matter).

It is well-known that China thinks of basically every person of Chinese ancestral heritage as Chinese; their actual nationality doesn't seem to matter to the CCP. They do this by threatening Chinese students abroad, taking over Chinese-language media aimed at the diaspora and threatening loved ones who may still be in China, among other tactics.

It's also not a stretch to see that they think they can get away with holding Gui in part because he, well, looks Asian. They are betting on the rest of the world seeing this as a "Chinese" issue, not an international one, and that the world cares less about these things. Basically, China is deeply racist about such matters (thinking everyone with Chinese ancestry is Chinese and therefore subject to CCP control  no matter how many generations ago their family left is racist), but they're also betting that we are racist too: that we will care less because Gui is Asian.

Why do I say this? Well, compare China's treatment of Gui to their treatment of another Swede involved in China: Peter Dahlin. Gui published books - legally - that threatened the CCP's reputation. Dahlin is an activist who threatens the CCP by working with human rights lawyers in China.

Dahlin was released after a few weeks. Gui has been held for three years. Dahlin was taken in China, over actions he undertook in China; Gui was taken in Thailand over actions he undertook in Hong Kong.

I'll repeat myself: Peter Dahlin is white and has a European name. Gui Minhai looks Chinese and has a Chinese name.

China didn't want a disappeared European on their hands, so they let Dahlin go. They are betting on you not thinking Gui is European.

Don't believe me? They abducted another foreign citizen too: Lee Ming-che. Lee is Taiwanese, not Chinese. But his name is Lee Ming-che and he looks Asian. Lee was abducted in China, over actions that he took in Taiwan where he broke no laws.

Like Gui, the Chinese government wants you to think Lee is Chinese and that this is therefore a Chinese matter and none of your business. It is no such thing. They want you to fall back on old mental blocks - for you not to care as much about people with Asian faces.

Still don't believe me? Despite Swedish officials being fairly quiet about pressing for Gui's release, China has started a massive diplomatic row over a family of play-acting Chinese tourists and China's ambassador to Sweden is something of a grandstanding jerk: all of this (even according to Olsson) seems to be related to China's attempts to pressure Sweden to just forget Gui Minhai exists, and to shift the spotlight of the Sweden-China disagreement from a Swede abducted by China to a family of shrieking stooges.

Again: China wants you to forget about Gui Minhai, and Lee Ming-che too. They want you to see these foreign prisoners of the Chinese state as "Chinese", so you won't worry your pretty little head about them. The Swedish government, for some reason, seems to be playing along just enough to keep Gui out of the news. The result is that most people seem to be forgetting about him, if they knew he existed at all.

You, however, should do no such thing. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Talk on Gui Minhai by Swedish journalist to be held on 10/17

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 3.11.41 PM


Time:
October 17 (this Wednesday), 7:30pm-9pm
Location: Enspyre; 12th Floor #181 Fuxing N. Road, Songshan Dist. Taipei (section not given but it's basically near/on the Fuxing-Changchun intersection)
台北市松山區復興北路181號12樓


Top-notch Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson will be hosting a talk on the disappearance and continued detainment of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai this Wednesday.

Olsson has been holding Sweden's feet to the fire over the government's silence on Chinese government crimes against Swedish citizens for some time, and is deeply knowledgeable about these issues. He is well worth listening to and I strongly recommend attending.

Gui's disappearance affects us all. First, it shows that the Chinese government is deeply racist: it is far more likely to go after dissidents of Chinese ancestral heritage, showing that it considers all people with ancestral ties to China to essentially be "Chinese" regardless of where they actually come from, live, or are citizens. China seems to have wagered that the rest of the world doesn't care as long as the victims look Asian. I fear that they have wagered correctly.

It also shows that China's actions are not just impacting their own citizens (although prominent Chinese citizens are disappearing as well, including ones who head prominent international organizations and do not reside in China, such as disappeared Interpol chief Meng Hongwei). Gui Minhai is a Swedish citizen; this issue also calls to mind Li Mingche, the Taiwanese citizen also 'disappeared' by China. Li, too, is not Chinese: he is Taiwanese, and his actions in Taiwan were entirely legal.

Even scarier is that Gui's disappearance did not happen in China - he was in Bangkok. Essentially, this means that the Chinese government does not stop at its own citizens or borders, and is certainly willing to abduct foreign nationals from other countries. It is possible - likely, even - that they attempted to do the same thing to Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong when he arrived in Bangkok, but had to release him as he was able to get word of his detainment out on social media.

This is what we're up against. This shows that, as evil as you think Western countries can be (and they certainly can be), the CCP is several orders of magnitude worse: they are crueler, more evil, and more terrifying.

Knowing more about these issues, especially if you reside in Taiwan, is absolutely worth your time. Also, you'll be supporting one of the foreign journalists whose mission it is to expose Chinese government atrocities to Western audiences and who is committed to Taiwan. We need more of those, and to support the ones we already have.