Last year the Stockholm Chinese embassy made threats to Johan Lundgren, the chief of The Culture Committee in Linköping, that relations between China and Sweden would deteriorate if the city council allowed the Shen Yun Performing Arts to perform at the Konsert & Kongress venue.
The threats were made over a phone call, however they backfired and caused an uproar from the Swedish politicians and public.
Shen Yun Performing Arts is a dance and music company that presents the 5,000 years of China’s culture. The performance company is independent of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the CCP’s foreign embassies and consulates often attempt to interfere with their performances. Shen Yun is touring more than 80 cities around the world this year with their show of classical Chinese dance and music.
Looking back at the incident, Mr. Lundgren said that the threat from the embassy was in vain. As far as he knows, the politician’s support for Shen Yun in Linköping has not caused any deterioration of the relations between the city and China.
The secretary of the Chinese Embassy intended to throw suspicion on the organizers and the show, yet the attempt back-fired and the show was sold-out to the last seat.
“I was very clear on the fact that freedom of expression is applied here,” said Mr. Lundgren who stood firm against the empty threats.
At Shen Yun´s opening performance in Linköping on March 20 this year, county governor Mr. Björn Eriksson addressed the issue and told The Epoch Times that he too firmly resisted pressure from Chinese Embassy last year.
Mr. Eriksson travels regularly to China and has not received any repercussions from the Chinese authorities, despite his supportive position for the Shen Yun show.
“You just can’t give orders like that. Art and culture finds its own way, and if you try to stop it, people will react. People in general, from this region, reacted quite strongly last time,” said Mr. Eriksson who returned from Jiangsu Province recently.
“We had our debates in the past, and they know I’m not easily controlled,” he explained.
Another politician, the Stockholm Culture Commissioner, Madeleine Sjöstedt (Liberal Party) received a similar phone call from the Embassy last year. She has not noticed any similar incident this year.
“I have met my counterpart in Beijing and said, verbally, that this is the behavior we do not accept, and that we presume it will not happen again,” said Mrs. Sjöstedt.
Additional reporting by Pirjo Svensson