Relations with China to normalize

Norway and China patch up their six-year quarrel over Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize

Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Staff

During a visit to Beijing on Dec. 19, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende released a joint declaration regarding the relationship between China and Norway.

“I am pleased that we can announce the full normalization of our political and diplomatic relations with China here in Beijing today. This joint statement opens up many opportunities for cooperation. We have already agreed to immediately resume negotiations on a free trade agreement.”

Norway has not had political contact with China since 2010, when Beijing froze ties with Oslo over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Liu has been imprisoned since 2008 and was convicted in 2009 of “inciting subversion of state power.”

“The situation since 2010 has been challenging. This normalization of relations is the result of long-term, painstaking diplomatic efforts on many levels to restore confidence between our two countries,” Brende said.

Norway and China have developed close cooperation in a broad range of areas over the past 50 years.

“Our joint statement with China today clearly confirms that we are fully normalizing our relations and that we have agreed on important steps forward in our bilateral relations,” Foreign Minister Brende said.

“In my conversations in Beijing today, I raised the need for resuming negotiations on a free trade agreement, as well as the need for a full normalization of Norwegian exports to China and cooperation on a whole range of issues, including climate change and the Arctic,” Brende commented.

Human rights issues were not mentioned in the two-page joint statement, and Norway has not offered an apology for the Nobel Prize. Norway did, however, reiterate its commitment to the one-China policy.

“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.

“China is an indispensable partner when seeking common solutions to international challenges such as climate change and the elimination of poverty,” said Brende.

The government is planning additional political visits to China in spring 2017. A diverse group of representatives from the business sector will accompany the Norwegian delegations.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 30, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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