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China demands apology from Sweden over treatment of 3 tourists

What began as a dispute over check-in times between three Chinese tourists and a Swedish hotel has somehow escalated into an international incident, with Beijing demanding an apology for what it says was a human rights violation.

China has issued a safety warning for its nationals in Sweden after the three tourists were “brutally abused” by local police on September 2. On Monday, Beijing urged Stockholm to take their concerns seriously and respond to the complaint immediately

“We again urge Sweden to take China’s concerns seriously, and to take practical measures to protect the security and legitimate interests of Chinese tourists,”said China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

The Chinese family arrived to the Stockholm hotel after midnight on the day in question - several hours before their scheduled arrival. After being told they could not check in yet, they asked if they could wait in the lobby. The hotel staff ordered them to leave when they allegedly started to make verbal threats, before calling the police to forcibly remove them.

READ MORE: 22 cars burned in Sweden as country rocked by rising crime

Dramatic video footage showing the family being carried out by police went viral. The son can heard repeatedly yelling “This is killing”, while another clip shows the trio crying loudly on the ground outside, with the mother yelling in Chinese: “Save me”.

On Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Sweden said that China’s ministry of foreign affairs had reached out to the Swedish government “stressing that what the police had done severely endangered the life and violated the basic human rights of the Chinese citizens.”

The hotel said the family had arrived the day before their booking and they had done “everything we could do for this guest.”

“But at the same time we can not accept that our staff are exposed to threats and that other guests will suffer from a threatening situation,” the manager said to the newspaper Aftonbladet.

Sweden has not yet responded to China’s request for an update on the investigation.

The incident with the rough-handling of Chinese tourists came amid a rise of criminality in Sweden. Police are facing harsh criticism at home for their perceived inability to tackle the far more serious crimes, like gang violence, rape and arson. The left-wing government has also been criticized for its lax migration policy, since the spike in violent crime coincides with flows of migrants arriving in Sweden.

Public anger over the rise in crime has led Swedish politicians to make drastic statements. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said last month that he was personally “pissed off” by the car-burning epidemic striking Swedish towns. Earlier, he had said that he wouldn’t rule out deploying the army to curb gang violence.

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