China ends diplomatic freeze with Norway after Nobel row

21-Dec-2016 Intellasia | Reuters | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Norway and China announced Monday the resumption of diplomatic relations, six years after Beijing froze ties with Oslo over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident.

The announcement means talks can now resume on a free trade pact between mineral-rich Norway and China, the world’s second-biggest economy.

Diplomatic relations – and the trade talks – were frozen after the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010 to human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned in his own country by authorities who consider him a “criminal.”

But during a surprise visit to Beijing by Norwegian Foreign minister Borge Brende on Monday, the two nations issued a joint declaration announcing they were unfreezing ties.

“The Norwegian government reiterates its commitment to the one-China policy, fully respects China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, attaches high importance to China’s core interests and major concerns, will not support actions that undermine them, and will do its best to avoid any future damage to the bilateral relations,” the statement said.

Human rights issues were not mentioned in the two-page document.

“We haven’t made any concessions but we have engaged in confidence-building work over a long period of time,” prime minister Erna Solberg told reporters in Oslo.

Her Chinese counterpart Li Kegiang, quoted by the Xinhua news agency, meanwhile said China “hopes to work together with Norway to open a new chapter for bilateral ties, and push forward a sustained, healthy and stable growth of relations.”

According to Norwegian media, China had demanded an official apology but Norway’s government repeatedly refused, insisting that the Nobel Committee was an independent body free to make its own choices.

“Norway deeply reflected upon the reasons why bilateral mutual trust was harmed, and had conscientious, solemn consultations with China about how to improve bilateral relations,” Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi said.

Liu Xiaobo has been serving an 11-year sentence since 2009 for “subversion”, after co-writing a text calling for democracy in China.

Solberg admitted that Norway’s economy had suffered as a result of the spat with the Asian giant.

“Even if our trade with China has not decreased, we have not been part of the enormous upswing from China in the same way many other countries have,” she said.

Salmon exports to China, one of Norway’s biggest export items, suffered as a result of the row, dealing a heavy blow to the industry.

On Monday, stocks of salmon producers were up on the Oslo stock exchange.


Category: China

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