Speaking to Swedish media, the hostel owner defended the measures taken against the family, saying that the three individuals had arrived hours before their booking and became verbally abusive after being denied access to a room.
“We only know that we have done everything we could do for this guest, but at the same time we cannot accept that our staff are exposed to threats and that other guests will suffer from a threatening situation,” the hostel manager was quoted as saying by Swedish daily Aftonbladet. Neither the hostel nor Swedish police officials immediately responded to a request for comment on Monday.
But the family’s son told Chinese media that the hostel refused his request to let his mother and father stay in the lobby as they were waiting for a room to become available. He says he made the hostel aware of his parents' fragile health but was instead ejected from the building by arriving police officers.
After reviewing the footage, the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm wrote in a statement that the incident “severely endangered the life and violated the basic human rights of the Chinese citizens.” Beijing subsequently issued a safety alert for Chinese visitors to Sweden.
“We all need to extend sympathy to the tourists for their unfortunate experience. But so far we have heard not a single word of apology from the Swedish police, which we find shocking and hard to understand,” China’s ambassador to Sweden, Gui Congyou, said in an interview published Monday.
The strongly worded response may also have political motives. Sweden and China have clashed over a number of human rights issues in recent months, including last week when the Swedish government welcomed the spiritual head of Tibet, the Dalai Lama. Beijing claims Tibet as part of China and accuses the Dalai Lama of encouraging violent separatism, a charge he rejects.
Beijing has issued a number of warnings in recent years for Chinese visitors heading to Europe, citing threats in Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and other countries. Last year, the Chinese Embassy in Berlin issued a safety alert, writing that an increasing number of Chinese tourists had become victims of violent attacks. The Chinese claims emerged even as German crime statistics showed a drop in overall crime incidents.
“If possible, avoid to go onto the streets alone at night or to head to remote places,” the Chinese Embassy in Germany recommended. “Once you’re back at home, make sure nobody followed you.”
In 2016, the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands said in a statement that it was “shocked” by footage showing an attack on Chinese tourists in the country with milk powder. As was the case in Stockholm, the incident gained attention only after it started trending on Chinese social media.