The Chinese Embassy in Stockholm strongly criticized Swedish national broadcaster SVT's apology for a satirical information video, in which Chinese tourists were informed that relieving themselves in public was unacceptable, as "hypocritical" and demanded a "proper" apology.
The past weekend, the SVT comedy program "Swedish news" caused strong reactions in China, which failed to appreciate the humor in paragraphs like "Sweden champions all people's equal rights, except for the Chinese." The Chinese authorities also filed a protest with the Swedish Foreign Ministry, which in turn referred to the freedom of speech applied in Sweden.
While SVT initially blankly rejected the very idea of apologizing for the satire, claiming it had done nothing wrong, Thomas Hall, the publisher responsible for "Swedish news," apologized to "individuals who have been offended or triggered by our segment" on his blog. Hall assured that the purpose of the program was entirely "anti-racist."
"We wanted to address a blank spot in Sweden, where racist comments and actions towards Chinese people for some reason are often allowed to pass by without comments," Hall wrote, noting that the segment in his opinion was consistent with SVT's rules.
In response, the Chinese Embassy published a statement dismissing the "so-called excuse" as "insincere, hypocritical and without any real intention." It suggested that Hall "failed to reflect on the attack on China and the gross racial discrimination against the Chinese people." While brushing Hall's explanation aside as an "attempt to gloss over the fault and muddle through," the embassy called on SVT to stop using excuses such as "original intention," "message lost" and "cultural crash" and sincerely apologize to the entire Chinese people and overseas Chinese community and "reject racism completely."
SVT Program Director Jan Helin said the broadcaster didn't intend to come up with further excuses.
"No, there are no such plans on top of what the editorial board of 'Swedish news' and the responsible publisher has done," Helin told the daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
Helin stressed that Thomas Hall's apology was "sufficient," fully endorsing his approach to individuals who have been triggered.
"We do not apologize for Swedish satire to a regime or state. This is an important publicist attitude. To me, it is clear to me that the Chinese Embassy's reactions are political. We're not going to play that game, but surely keep joking about," Helin said.
The unexpected Swedish-Chinese spat started earlier in September, when Chinese tourists were forcibly evicted from a Swedish hotel, which was heavily condemned by the Chinese government.
SVT's "satirical" piece on China had the potential to inflict more collateral damage, as it also referred to Russians as "worthless Chinese" based on the fact that a larger part of Russia lies in Asia.