Business leaders concerned ahead of Löfven's China visit

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven is going to China later this week, and Swedish businesses have expressed concern that Sweden will criticise the country and set off a crisis similar to the one with Saudi Arabia, news agency TT reports.

"Some members wonder: 'is China next?'," said Irena Busic, CEO of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China. On Friday, she will meet with Löfven for lunch in Bejing ahead of his meeting with prime minister Li Keqiang and president Xi Jinping.

"I will emphasise how important it is with stability and good relations. China is such a big and important market for Swedish companies so it would be devastating if something happens in the relations between the countries," Busic told TT.

Already on Wednesday in Stockholm, Löfven met with economists, experts and business leaders ahead of his trip.

"It was a good meeting where he listened to our thoughts and information. There is nothing wrong with calling a dictatorship a dictatorship, but you need to think about how you do it, the aim and what context. I think the government does that," said Thomas Lagerqvist, chairman of Sweden China Trade Council told TT.

According to Irena Busic at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, Norwegian businesses found it difficult to do business with China after the Nobel peace prize in 2010 went to the dissident Liu Xiaobo. She tells TT that "the government must be aware that there is a great risk if you criticise China. You have to be a diplomat and do it with flair."

Earlier in the week Löfven told news agency TT that he did not want to label countries but when asked directly if China is a dictatorship he said, "it is a one party state that has no general elections."

China is the tenth biggest importer of Swedish goods. Last year, Sweden exported to China for 39,8 billion krona, which is 3.5 percent of the total Swedish export. Meanwhile, Sweden imported for 59.4 billion kroner from China, which is 5.3 of the total Swedish imports.