A controversial incident involving Chinese tourists in Sweden has sparked heated debate online.
It all started when the Zeng family arrived at the Generator Stockholm hostel in the early hours of the morning on September 2, too early for the afternoon check-in. They asked to stay on the lobby sofa, offering to pay a small fee. The hotel refused. The family persisted. Conflict ensued, and the police were called.
A video on Weibo showed the family slumped on the ground, surrounded by Swedish police. The mother wailed. The son, held by a police officer, deliberately tumbled onto the pavement. Another scene showed one family member being carried by two officers, screaming, “This is killing! This is killing!”
Police carry the family members onto the street. Image via Global Times/Weibo
Image via iFeng/Weibo
Chinese state television broadcaster CGTN reports that Swedish police then dragged the father out of the lobby, throwing him onto the curb. The 67-year-old father is said to suffer from heart disease.
The son says his father lost consciousness and started twitching shortly afterwards, according to What’s On Weibo. He also told the Global Times that police kept on beating his parents and threatened to abandon them in the woods with wild animals.
The police eventually put them in a car and dropped them off at the Skogskyrkogården cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage site in suburban Stockholm seven kilometers away from the hostel.
Mats Ericsson, the chief prosecutor of Stockholm, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that police dropped the group off at a subway station close to the cemetery. He added that it's standard procedure to take people outside the city center in cases of disorderly behavior, and that the cemetery train station is a common drop-off point.
The family after being dropped off at the cemetery. Image via Global Times/Weibo
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The Chinese embassy in Sweden announced that the Zeng family’s human rights were seriously violated, reports People’s Daily, another state media outlet.
Shortly after the incident, the embassy also released a safety alert for Chinese tourists traveling to the country, warning of increasing instances of theft and poor police treatment.
Reaction to the incident on Chinese social media was mixed. Some opposed the actions taken by Swedish police.
“Perhaps the behavior of these three Chinese citizens was not very appropriate, but two of them are old people, they are not familiar with the area," wrote one user (translation via What's On Weibo). "To throw them out in the early morning, miles away at a cemetery where there are no hotels or stores, is really incorrect behavior by the Swedish police.”
But others took the opposite view. One user, commenting on the Weibo video, said: “As a man, he should not sit on the ground and cry so easily, it is not very becoming.”
Another more vocal user said: “Can you stop humiliating us in a foreign country? It is because of things like this that foreigners look down on us! This can only go from bad to worse. Shameless yet acting like you are in the right. This is not China. You cannot just lay on the ground and be a rascal. People like this should be prohibited from travelling abroad. They are an embarrassment!”
[Top image via Global Times/Weibo]