SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Western countries should educate naturalised citizens that their new passport is no “amulet” in China, a hawkish Chinese newspaper said on Thursday, suggesting that detained Swedish citizen Gui Minhai may have thought his foreign passport could shield him from Chinese law.
China confirmed on Tuesday that it had detained Gui, a Hong Kong-based bookseller, after his daughter said Chinese police had seized him from a train last month.
In 2015, Gui was abducted in Thailand while on holiday, one of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing that year and later appeared in mainland Chinese custody. The four others have returned to Hong Kong.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said in a statement on Monday that Gui’s detention was a “very serious matter” and that China’s “brutal” intervention in Sweden’s attempts to assist Gui, who Chinese authorities had said had been freed, represented a contravention of international rules on consular support.
“European countries and the U.S. should educate their newly naturalised citizens that the new passport cannot be their amulet in China. If they conduct activities in China, they must obey Chinese law,” an editorial in the Global Times said.
It said Gui, who was born in China and later became a Swedish citizen, often returned to China.
“There are many other ‘foreigners’ like Gui working and living in China. A few of them take advantage of their double identity as both Chinese and foreigner to seek profits and wish to shield themselves from penalties if they breach the law,” the newspaper said.
It said consular support had its boundaries, and China and Sweden should reach a solution to the issue through consultations.
“Sweden’s expectation to strengthen consular assistance to Gui cannot transcend China’s legal procedures,” it said.
Calls for Gui’s release reflected an “extraterritorial mentality”, it added.
“Gui committed a crime in China and China is handling his case according to its law,” it said.
“Now Western public opinion defined the case as political persecution of people with foreign citizenship, arbitrarily demanding China act according to their will. With such contempt towards Chinese law, is there any room for communication?”
Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Michael Perry