News

January 25, 2018

Democracies asked to press China to free Swedish publisher

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Chinese government’s continuing persecution of Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish publisher and bookseller who was arrested again last weekend while on his way to Beijing for medical treatment, and urges democratic countries to take strong action to obtain his release.

One of five Hong Kong booksellers to be abducted and detained by the Chinese authorities in 2015, Gui was the last to be freed. Officially, he was released on 24 October but he remained under close surveillance in the southeastern city of Ningbo.


Plainclothesmen arrested him again on 20 January as he was travelling in a train with two Swedish diplomats to receive treatment in Beijing for his serious health problems. Sweden and the European Union have demanded his immediate release without so far getting any official response from the Chinese authorities.


RSF calls on democratic governments throughout the world to put strong pressure on China.


“This persecution of a foreign citizen in violation of both the Chinese constitution and international law shows that the Chinese government takes the democracies’ passivity for granted,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia desk.


“If it doesn’t encounter more resistance, Xi Jinping’s regime will know that it can act with impunity when it kidnaps its opponents anywhere in the world, holds them incommunicado for as long as it wants, parades them on TV like cattle at a fair, claims against all evidence that they are free and even prevents them from seeking medical care.”


Mistreatment and denial of medical care – more discreet than a death sentence but the same in practice – are widely practiced by the Chinese state apparatus in order to silence dissidents and opponents.


Both Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel peace laureate and winner of the RSF Press Freedom Prize, and the blogger Yang Tongyan died last year from ailments that were left untreated while they were detained. Other prominent detainees such as Liu Xia (Liu Xiaobo’s widow), the RSF award-winning journalist Huang Qi, the journalist Liu Feiyue, the citizen-journalist Ilham Tohti and the blogger Wu Gan risk suffering the same fate.


China is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.