China has denied contacting the daughter of detained Swedish national and former Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai in an effort to stop her talking to the press.

In a report published last Sunday, Angela Gui told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper that she was contacted by an unidentified person who promised her a visit with her father Gui Minhai in China, if she stopped talking to the media.

“It’s bizarre,” the newspaper quoted her as saying. “They just wanted me to keep quiet, so they can have their hands free to do whatever they want with my dad.”

Angela Gui and Gui Minhai
Daughter Angela Gui and Gui Minhai. Photo: Facebook.

But the Chinese Embassy in Sweden denied making such an attempt in an English-language statement published on its official website on Tuesday.

“The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sweden would like to solemnly state that the Chinese side has never authorized and will not authorize anyone to engage with Gui Minhai’s daughter,” the embassy said in the statement. “The Chinese side handles the Gui Minhai case in accordance with law and legal procedure… The result of the Gui Minhai case is to be decided by China’s law, instead of the so-called ‘China’s representative’ claimed by Gui Minhai’s daughter or the press.”

“We hope that some people will not try to gain publicity for themselves by making up a so-called ‘China’s representative’,” it said.

Ambassador Gui Congyou
Chinese ambassador Gui Congyou to Sweden. Photo: Chinese embassy.

Angela Gui told HKFP that there was no way for her to verify the embassy’s statement, but she hoped it was true.

“I doubt however that the Chinese embassy would have had nothing at all to do with this, as the men I met showed me photos on one of their phones of them posing with Ambassador Gui Congyou,” she said

“I’m disappointed the embassy finds it necessary to resort to accusations of fabrication. If the embassy really had nothing to do with the conversations I had with these men, one might expect it to take the issue of people supposedly posing as its representatives more seriously. ”

“For example, one might think it reasonable for the embassy to distance itself from the actions of these people and to investigate the matter. Instead they chose to engage in an ad-hominem attack via their official channels.”

Gui Minhai was among five Hong Kong-based booksellers affiliated with Causeway Bay Books who disappeared in late 2015. The store sold political gossip titles banned in the mainland.

The Chinese-born Swedish citizen went missing while on vacation in Pattaya in 2015, only to appear on Chinese state television a few months later “confessing” to a 2003 drunk driving incident in Ningbo. He claimed that he had turned himself into mainland authorities and, in a later interview with handpicked media, apparently urged Stockholm not to sensationalise his case.

Bei Ling Gui Minhai
Bei Ling (left) and Gui Minhai (right) at a forum of the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009. File Photo: Stand News.

Bei Ling, a Chinese writer living in exile and a friend of Gui Minhai, told Radio Free Asia that he believed an unidentified middle-man could be affiliated with the Chinese state security system.

“This was definitely a state security agent, or they wouldn’t have approached her on China’s behalf. They frequently resort to threats and blandishments,” Bei said.

Bei said he did not believe China would release Gui Minhai, despite international pressure, since it cannot ensure Gui Minhai would not reveal the truth about his case.

Peace prize nomination

Angela Gui was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by Swedish MP Håkan Svenneling for her work to raise global awareness of China’s abductions and detentions aimed at silencing critics.

“I feel honoured to have been nominated, and wish to thank everyone who has supported me in my campaign for my father,” the activist said, according to a report.

gui minhai
Gui Minhai appears on Chinese state TV. File photo: CGTN.

Last month, she filed a complaint with the British telecommunications regulator against Chinese state television China Global Television Network for airing a “forced confessions” by her father, in an effort to strip the channel’s broadcasting licence in the UK.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.