Swedish Minister for environment, Lena Ek, got a taste of Chinese censorship during her visit to Peking this week. During a chat on the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo, what was apparently seen as an unwelcome question on the air quality in Peking was erased along with the Swedish Minister’s response.
Tuesday, Lena Ek was asked about what she felt about the air quality in Peking and she answered:
“I came here Sunday at lunchtime and I am going home gain Friday afternoon. It is very likely that I will not see blue sky while I’m here. I understand why many Chinese are concerned about the air and environment.”
Soon after that question and response was replaced by “Sorry, this post has been deleted.”
”I will be taking this up at my coming meeting with China’s House planning and Climate Minister,” said Ek to SvD in Peking on Wednesday.
The Minister was taken aback the censorship.
”An open discussion about the quality of the air is very important in order to make any changes. Above all it is about the right to discuss environmental issues.”
This is the second time a Swedish minister participated in a chat in China. The first was when Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt was on the chat in December. During the session a complaint from the signature “I am Baijing” appeared, saying that they had removed his question. Carl Bildt replied that someone else had done it.
During a seminar on green cities this Wednesday in Peking, Ek said that the Sweden’s experience was that openness and transparence was important to build good relations.