First official contact between Norway and China in two years

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg meet with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao monday on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit in Vientiane.

It was first official contact since  pro-democracy dissident Liu Xiaobo, who Beijing considers a “criminal”, was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

The Nobel committee, which is independent of the government though its members are chosen by the Norwegian parliament, angered China which broke off all high-level contact with Norway.

Stoltenberg said he had thanked the Chinese premier for the inclusion of Norway, along with Switzerland and Bangladesh, in the Asia-Europe  Meeting.

“It is the first time that Norway has joined this meeting place, and so it’s natural to say thank you for the support that has made this possible,” he said.

He declined to comment on what effect the meeting could have on future relations between Oslo and Beijing.

“We would like to have normal political relations with China and when that’s possible we will say so,” he said.

“I do not want to speculate on the significance of Norway getting accepted into this forum but in it we see a positive contribution to a closer dialogue with the participating countries, which includes China,” he added.

Last week Chinese deputy foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu said it was up to Norway to make a gesture to normalize relations between the two countries.

The frozen relations have coursed major trouble for Norwegian companies and products at the Chinese market. Specialty products with a strong national identity — such as fjord-farmed salmon — have been slapped with import restrictions and Norwegian companies have had problems with staff visas and other obstacles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *