The attack on Olsson, an experienced reporter and recognized China specialist, was made in an unsigned statement issued on 3 July by China’s embassy in Stockholm, where the ambassador is Gui Congyou.
It took issue with a 19 June article in Expressen in which Olsson gave many examples of the methods used by the Chinese authorities to implement their policy of suppressing media freedom in China. The embassy said the article was “full of bias and lies” and described Olsson’s behaviour as “deceptive and shameful.”
“The attitude of the Chinese embassy in Stockholm is yet another example of the complete lack of respect displayed by the Chinese authorities towards journalists and confirms the validity of the article it criticized,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia bureau. “If Ambassador Gui wants to prove his commitment to press freedom, he can help Jojje Olsson get a visa as quickly as possible so that he can work in China.”
Olsson is used to harassment by the Chinese authorities. After being based in China for nine years and writing a book about the country that addressed a number of sensitive issues, he was denied the renewal of his visa in July 2016. He has continued to cover the Chinese-speaking world since then from a base in Taiwan.
In its latest report in February, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China voiced concern about an increase in violence against foreign journalists and attempts to intimidate them. The Beijing-based French journalist Ursula Gauthier was expelled in 2012 after writing an article that annoyed the authorities. Reporters for the New York Times and Al Jazeera were expelled in 2012 and a reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail was expelled in 2009.
Ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, China continues to be one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists.