Swedish Exchange Student Deported From China Over Blog Post
Sven Englund, a Swedish foreign exchange student in Shanghai, China, couldn’t
resist the temptation recently to mock the political system in his host country,
with a cheeky letter and suggested “flash mob.” This was not appreciated by the
Chinese authorities, however, and he was given 48 hours to get out.
Chairman Hu,” begins the letter written by the 24-year old, who had been in
China since August 2010. It was a class assignment, and returned to him marked
“very good!” by the teacher.
wouldn’t have been much of a letter if I didn’t send it, though, so I did what I
usually do and put it on my blog for the
whole world to read,” Englund says in an internet commentary to the
Englund had a few other things he wanted to clear up with Hu
Jintao, chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, who is also the head of state,
and he put a Swedish version with some comments on the internet.
a question, why do you call it the ‘People’s Republic of China’? China is not a republic, since the
definition of a republic is that the president is elected by the people [perhaps
I should have put parliament or something] and you’re just elected by the
Communist Party. And why ‘People’s’, since China is not a democracy! It seems
like you should change the name, maybe to ‘The Communist Party’s China’ [sounds
better in Chinese], but what is best is probably that you actually make China
into a ‘People’srepublic of China’.”
In his Chinese blog, Englund then
went on to suggest that Chairman Hu participate in a flash mob, which was to
consist of people turning up at a certain place in downtown Shanghai with the
word “freedom” written somewhere on their bodies.
At this time the 90th
anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party was approaching, and Englund had
almost finished his studies in China. The day after he published his blog post,
a teacher relayed a message from someone within the Communist Party urging him
to remove the post and also to write that the
flash mob was cancelled.
Soon, Englund discovered that he couldn’t
access his blog, but he managed to copy it and start a new blog.
next day, three people turned up with some kind of housing tax, but Englund
referred them to his landlord. He felt that they might have come for different
reasons, however, and started to pack his belongings. When he was about to leave
for the gym, he found two men waiting for him outside the apartment, and a third
man over by an old police car. When asked to get in
the car with them, Englund asked if he could change his clothes and get
his hearing aid, which the men agreed to.
In his room, he prepared a
recording device and sent an email to the Swedish Consulate. The men brought him
to the university, where he was put in a room with seven or eight men and
strongly urged to abort the flash mob. He was told that the mob was illegal,
since that kind of gathering requires filing for a permit 15 days in advance.
Englund agreed to cancel the activity and volunteered to write a post
about what had transpired during the day and what the men in the room had told
him. The men didn’t like that idea, though. A policeman asked to see his
passport, which was then taken away and not returned.
At this point,
Englund got a call from the Swedish consulate, telling him that he might be
considered responsible for what anyone does during the flash mob, so he told the
men that he would update his blog and cancel the flash mob
Since the Internet connection at the university was too slow,
Englund was taken back home to post the message. In the first version of this
message, he wrote that the activity “seems to be illegal”, which was not
appreciated. It should say “is illegal” and he was also told to write that he
advised people not to go, which he refused to do.
Englund was then
questioned the whole afternoon, and answered to the best of his knowledge, but
refused to give up the password to his blog.
“I said over and over again
that I wouldn’t answer that question. I really didn’t think that I was required
by law to answer any question they could come up with, just because they were
policemen,” he wrote in his commentary to the events.
the way back to the apartment, he brought out his recording device, which had
been running for ten hours, wondering why the police never asked him what he had
sticking out from under his shirt.
Sven was allowed to take his final
exams, but was deported to Sweden on July
“I’m pretty happy to be home. I don’t want to go back there again,” he
told Swedish news site helagotland.se.