Sweden joins France, Germany in weighing measures against China over Hong Kong

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Sweden said on Monday it supported Franco-German efforts for a robust response to China’s new security law on Hong Kong, joining Denmark and the Netherlands in pushing the European Union to consider countermeasures on Beijing.

Like much of the West, the European Union has denounced the decision by China’s parliament to pass national security legislation for the former British colony of Hong Kong despite an international outcry.

But its threat of reprisals is vague.

“There is a proposal of measures especially proposed by Germany and France that I will support because we need to react to what is happening in Hong Kong,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde said before a rare meeting in person with her EU counterparts in Brussels.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last month warned of “very negative consequences” for Beijing if it curtailed guarantees of freedom in Hong Kong that are not enjoyed on the mainland.

EU officials declined to go into details about the measures, but two EU diplomats said they did not amount to formal sanctions on China, the bloc’s second-largest trading partner.

Instead, they entail extending the EU’s export ban on equipment that could be used for torture or repressive policing, such as spiked batons or rubber bullets, giving Hong Kong activists long-term refugee status in the bloc and supporting more opportunities for Hong Kong students to study in Europe.

Sweden is seeking the release of its citizen Gui Minhai, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail in February, accused by Beijing of illegally providing intelligence overseas.

Gui, a bookseller previously based in Hong Kong who sold books critical of China’s political leadership, was detained by mainland police in 2018. He was seized while with Swedish diplomats on a Beijing-bound train.

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