New York-based music and dance troupe Diving Performing Arts, a group with ties to the Falun Gong movement, is scheduled to perform in Linköping and Stockholm in March.
On Monday, an official close to Vice Mayor Madeleine Sjöstedt (Lib), head of the City of Stockholm’s culture department, received a call from a staff member at the Chinese embassy. The caller explained that there would be consequences for Stockholm’s relationship with China if the show went ahead as planned.
“We received an inquiry as to whether it was possible to do something to stop the event. I am insulted that they think politicians in Sweden live under the same conditions as in China,” said Sjöstedt.
The Vice Mayor, who said she had never come across anything like it in her political career, said that she now expected an apology from the Chinese embassy.
Johan Lundgren (Cen), head of the culture department in Linköping, said he had also been approached by the Chinese Embassy, Östgöta Correspondenten reports.
“He appealed to me to stop the show on the grounds that: the performers were part of a sect that didn’t give a true picture of China; it was an ‘anti-Chinese group’; we had had the wool pulled over our eyes,” Lundgren told the newspaper.
A member of staff at the Chinese embassy confirmed that they had made calls to politicians in Stockholm and Linköping. But the spokesman, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that the purpose of the calls had been to inform rather than to ask for the performances to be stopped.
“We just wanted to provide some background and information to the effect that this is not a regular cultural event,” he told TT.
The practice of Falun Gong, a system of “mind and body cultivation” has been banned in China since 1999.