Beijing, China (CNN)China and Sweden are locked in an escalating diplomatic feud after a minor dispute over tourists outstaying their welcome in a hostel devolved into broad accusations of racism and official travel warnings.
Beijing accuses Sweden of racism amid escalating diplomatic row
The crisis has drawn attention to several grievances between Stockholm and Beijing in recent years, including the arrest and detention of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai by Chinese police and a recent visit to Sweden by the Dalai Lama.
In the latest escalation, Chinese authorities and media slammed a Swedish television show that attempted to poke fun at a group of Chinese tourists who were forcibly removed from their hostel earlier this month as "racist and xenophobic."
The Chinese Foreign Ministry reacted furiously to the segment, aired last Friday on "Swedish News," a comedy program on the SVT station, in which the recent incident was satirized using negative stereotypes about Chinese people.
Calling the program "a gross insult to, and vicious attack on, China and the Chinese people," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday that China strongly condemned it and demanded the station "take immediate measures to eliminate the extremely negative impact."
"The SVT program (and its host) spread and advocate racism and xenophobia outright, and openly provoke and instigate racial hatred and confrontation targeting at China," the Chinese embassy in Sweden said in an earlier statement, before adding its own sarcastic line: "To think that such things could happen in Sweden, an advocate of ethnic equality!"
On Saturday, the Chinese embassy issued an official travel warning to its citizens, warning them against a rising number of "security incidents" reported by Chinese tourists in Sweden, including theft and robbery "almost every day."
In a statement to CNN, Sweden's SVT station said they were "truly sorry" for the way the segment had been received in China, saying they had been attempting to drawn attention to sinophobia in Sweden.
"This was a mistake, as the entirety of our message and ambition was then lost. We recognize that this may have been an insult, for which we are truly sorry," the statement said.
The furious reaction comes as Chinese authorities -- as well as state-run media -- ramp up their attacks on Sweden over its handling of the hostel incident early this month.
A Chinese family arrived at a hostel in Stockholm around 2 a.m. on September 2 with a reservation for the next night, according to local media reports. Informed that they could not check in yet, they said they would wait in the lobby, but the police were later summoned, resulting in their removal from the hostel.