China and Sweden's diplomatic spat deepens after 'vicious' comedy skit

By On September 29, 2018

China and Sweden's diplomatic spat deepens after 'vicious' comedy skit

Email China and Sweden's diplomatic spat deepens after 'vicious' comedy skit

Posted September 30, 2018 05:10:15

A sign used in a Swedish TV program. It shows a person in a farmers hat defecating, inside a red circle with line through it. Photo: Sweden's national broadcaster SVT has issued an apology for any offence the segment caused. (SVT) Related Story: China says Swedish police 'brutally abused' tourists ejected from a hostel Related Story: John Oliver blocked on Chines e social media after Xi Jinping segment Map: Sweden

A Swedish comedy program that advised Chinese tourists not to "poop outside" or eat dogs has attracted the ire of Chinese authorities, who have labelled it a "vicious attack" on China.

Key points:

  • The offending segment was a pretend "informational film" for Chinese tourists
  • China said it was "full of prejudices, biases and provocations"
  • The broadcaster said the program was actually intended to be anti-racist

The skit from the television program Svenska Nyheter (Swedish News), which was broadcast on Swedish public broadcaster SVT last Friday, went viral in China after producers posted it on the Chinese video-sharing website Youku.

Svenska Nyheter, hosted by Swedish comedian Jesper Rönndahl, follows a similar format to John Oliver's popular Last Week Tonight program.

It was made in response to last week's allegations that Swedish police had "brutally abused" a family of Chinese tourists in the capital, Stockholm, an incident that kicked off a diplomatic spat between the two nations.

'This is killing people': A Chinese tourist in Sweden has accused local police of trying to kill his parentsVideo: 'This is killing people': A Chinese tourist in Sweden has accused local police of trying to kill his parents (ABC News)

The end of the segment featured a short "informational film for Chinese tourists" dubbed in Chinese, which made jokes playing on a variety of racist stereotypes.

"We do not poop outside historic buildings … And if you see someo ne who's out walking a dog, it's not because they just bought lunch," an actor in the video said.

However SVT said the program had an "anti-racist ambition", and released a full version of the segment with English subtitles to clarify its intention.

External Link: The 'Sinophobia is not ok' skit from Svenska Nyheter.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on SVT to take action over the comedy sketch, and spokesperson Geng Shuang said authorities had made "stern representations" to the Swedish Government.

"It amounts to a gross insult to and vicious attack on China and the Chinese people," he said.

"The program leader's comments are full of prejudices, biases and provocations against China and some other ethnic groups. It is a serious violation of media professional ethics."

Sweden's Ministry of Forei gn Affairs said in a statement that "there is freedom of expression in Sweden", but did not make any further comment on the controversy.

Embassy slams 'hypocritical' apology

In a statement, SVT said the intention of the skit was to shine a light on racism against Chinese people in Sweden, but that it had backfired.

An actor on the Svenska Nyheter program sits in a cafe. A crude caricature of a Chinese person is superimposed. Photo: SVT said uploading only part of the program in China "may have been an insult". (SVT)

It said only the final part of the 10-minute video was posted to the Chinese video site, which led to it being misinterpreted.

"The purpose of the short segment published on Youku w as to gather Chinese reactions. This was a mistake, as the entirety of our message and ambition was then lost," the broadcaster said.

"We recognise that this may have been an insult, for which we are truly sorry."

External Link: Sweden tweet

In a second statement, SVT program manager Thomas Hall reiterated that the program was intended to be 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," he said.

"I offer my honest apology to the individuals who have been offended by our segment."

China's Embassy in Sweden did not accept Mr Hall's apology, which it said was "insincere, hypocritical and without any real intention".

"Hall failed to reflect on the attack on China and the gross racial discrimination against the Chinese people ... It is an attempt to gloss over the fault and muddle through," it said in a statement.

The embassy also accused the program of using "a wrong map of China" that did not include Taiwan or parts of the Tibet region.

'That has nothing to do with Ikea'

The reaction to the skit on Chinese social media site Weibo was swift and fierce, while others left angry comments on host Jesper Rönndahl's Facebook and Twitter accounts.

External Link: Jesper tweet

Some netizens directed their anger at the official Weibo page of furniture company Ikea. The Swedish business has 25 stores in China, and the country is also an important part of its supply chain.

One fairly innocuous post on their Weibo account this week attracted more than 1,000 comments, mostly about the SVT comedy skit and last week's police brutality allegations.

"Get out of China, we don't welcome countries and people who discriminate against China," said one Weibo user.

Others argued that a boycott would only hurt the company's Chinese employees.

In a statement, Ikea said it was aware of "discussion connected to the recent comedy show in Sweden, however that has nothing to do with Ikea".

"We respect Chinese culture and tradition, diversity and inclusion has always been an important part of the Ikea culture and values," it said.

Topics: world-politics, race-relations, television-broadcasting, television, comedy-humour, discrimination, sweden, china, asia

Source: Google News Sweden | Netizen 24 Sweden

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