Talking to Svenska Dagbladet, Gui Congyou, China’s ambassador to Sweden, tells the newspaper that trade between Sweden and China has grown, from SEK 1 billion in 1994 to SEK 15 billion in 2017.
“Last year, for the first time, Sweden had a trade surplus of SEK 900 million. Despite this, we would like to see Swedish exports to China increase further,” he says.
There is no denying that China’s rapid entry into the Swedish world of business has stirred concerns, ranging from Geely’s plans for the two Volvo companies (with a total of around 50,000 employees) to the fact that China is not a western democracy.
Saying that he cannot understand the concerns, the ambassador notes that Chinese companies are investing more than USD 1 billion around the world every year; capital that has created many new jobs in the countries in which it has invested. “China has invested USD 3.6 billion and created 20,000 jobs in Sweden,” says the ambassador, pointing out that Volvo sold 150,000 cars in China and 600,000 world-wide last year. “Who could have believed that of a company that was on the brink of bankruptcy ten years ago?”
Gui Congyou says Chinese investment is governed by commercial interests and there is no political agenda. “Neither the Chinese state nor Chinese companies should interfere in other countries’ internal affairs. On the contrary, the Chinese state has consistently maintained that our companies must respect other countries’ laws and social rules.”
The government’s declaration of foreign policy from 2017 dedicates only 18 words to China. The new declaration, to be presented on Wednesday, coincides with a war of words between China and Sweden over the imprisoned publisher Gui Minhai and Sweden’s relationship with China is at a crossroads, writes DN’s Torbjörn Petersson.
In the most recent turn of events, Gui Minhai appeared in the Chinese media saying he was being used as a pawn by the Swedish government to create problems for China’s government. Previously, one of his colleagues, Lam Wing-kee has said that they were forced to read a script when they were arrested previously at the same time in 2015.
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström has sharpened her tone towards China recently. And since then, China has stepped up its attacks on Sweden. Petersson writes, “Challenging China is not without its risks. Norway experienced that when the Nobel Prize committee awarded the Chinese regime critic and author Liu Xiaobo the Peace Prize in 2010… China bullied Norway in all possible ways after Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize.” He continues, “It is not unlikely that China could try and use the same kind of language of power if Sweden does not fall in line,” and adds that Sweden’s choice of direction may well be glimpsed in this year’s declaration of foreign policy.
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