TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — During an interview guarded by two Chinese police officers on Friday, Gui Minhai (桂明海), the Hong Kong bookseller who had been detained by the Chinese authorities since Jan. 20, accused the Swedish government of using him as “a chess piece” in order to make trouble with Beijing and seek political gains.
The former Hong Kong bookseller who has Swedish nationality was taken away, for the second time, by plainclothes Chinese agents about three weeks ago from a Beijing-bound train. He was originally heading to the Swedish embassy for a medical examination with two Swedish diplomats.
In a 20-minute interview arranged by China’s Ministry of Public Security in a detention center in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, the 53-year-old Chinese-born man was sitting in a room guarded by two police officers. A missing upper tooth was clearly visible when Gui answered questions from the media, or when he was giving smiles with his hands folded together.
Gui said the Swedish authorities had continuously sensationalized what had happened to him, and that despite their calling for his return to Sweden, he had declined several times, reported South China Morning Post.
“Looking back, I may have become a chess piece of the Swedish government. Now that I have broken the law again under its instigation, my wonderful life is ruined and I will never trust the Swedish ever again,” said Gui.
Referring to an election due later this year in Sweden, Gui said some Swedish politicians might be using him for their own political gains.
"I can’t rule out the possibility that some [the Swedish] are trying to use me to create trouble for the Chinese government," said Gui, adding, "If they continue to create troubles, I may consider giving up my Swedish citizenship.”
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström released a statement on Feb. 5, calling the abduction of Gui from a train as he was accompanied by two Swedish diplomats a “brutal intervention."
“The continued detention of the Swedish citizen Gui Minhai in China is a very serious matter,” said Wallström.
Wallström added, “We demand that our citizen 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.”
Angela Gui, the bookseller’s daughter based in the U.K., told the Guardian on February 8 that she feared her father would face jail time for “trafficking state secrets,” a charge the Chinese authorities claimed Gui was guilty of.
Gui went missing for the first time in 2015 while he was on his way home from a trip to Thailand. Three months later, he surfaced on Chinese media, confessing that he had returned to China and voluntarily surrendered to the authorities.
Gui was sentenced for a fatal hit-and-run car accident that took place in 2003. After being in custody for two years, Gui was released on Oct. 17. His release was described as “half free,” since he was still under surveillance and was ordered not to leave the country.