Stockholm has condemned China’s refusal to allow a Swedish doctor to visit detained bookseller Gui Minhai.

The Swedish citizen was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for publishing gossip books about Chinese political leaders who had disappeared in 2015, only to resurface in Chinese custody.

gui minhai
Gui Minhai. Photo: CGTN screenshot.

According to his daughter Angela, Gui had been displaying symptoms of the neurological disease ALS before he again disappeared in January.

China again refused to allow a Swedish doctor to visit Gui on Wednesday, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström said in a statement released on Thursday.

“China’s action is unacceptable and breaks previous assurances that our citizen would be given the opportunity to see a Swedish doctor,” she said. “Our work on the case continues unabated. We continue to demand that Mr Gui be given the opportunity to meet Swedish diplomatic and medical staff, and that he be released so that he can be reunited with his daughter and family.”

Gui disappeared from his holiday home in Thailand in October 2015 with no record of departure and re-emerged on Chinese state television months later “confessing” to a drunk-driving incident that occurred over a decade ago. According to his daughter Angela, he was living under police surveillance in the city of Ningbo after his sentence was completed in October.

Causeway Bay Books. Photo: HKFP/Stanley Leung.

He was then snatched from a Beijing-bound train in front of two Swedish diplomats, as he was reportedly en route to see a Swedish doctor in the capital in January.

But in a government-arranged “interview” with selected media outlets last month, Gui said he had not been diagnosed with ALS and that medical examinations found that the muscular atrophy he had been experiencing were attributed to problems with his spine.

Sweden previously called Gui’s seizure a “brutal intervention” contravening international rules on consular support. The Chinese foreign ministry said the two countries have “maintained smooth communication” on the case and brushed off Sweden’s criticism as “irresponsible.” China says Gui was detained again as he was in possession of state secrets.

Not-for-profit, run by journalists and completely independent. Contribute to our critical month-long HK$1m Funding Drive, help safeguard our independence and secure our operations for another year. Read how carefully we spend every cent in our Annual/Transparency Report.

2018 hkfp promo (2)
catherine lai

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.