Norway said Monday that China has called off a meeting with the Norwegian fisheries minister just days after Beijing warned that the Nobel Peace Prize award to a jailed Chinese dissident would harm relations between the countries.
Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, who is in China visiting the World Expo in Shanghai, was supposed to meet with China’s vice minister for fisheries on Wednesday, said the Norwegian ministry’s spokesman Magnus Hodne.
But the Chinese canceled the meeting, Hodne said, adding he did not know the reason.
Beijing had reacted angrily to Friday’s announcement honoring Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned democracy campaigner. China warned Norway’s government that relations would suffer, even though the Nobel committee is an independent organization.
Also on Monday, European diplomats were prevented from visiting Liu’s wife, who has been living under house arrest since Friday.
Simon Sharpe, the first secretary of political affairs of the EU delegation in China, said he wanted to see Liu Xia at her home in Beijing to personally deliver a letter of congratulations on the peace award from the president of the European Commission.
But three uniformed guards at the main gate of Liu’s apartment complex prevented the group from entering, saying someone from inside the building had to come out and fetch them.
Liu Xia has said via Twitter that she has been unable to make phone calls, and Sharpe noted that made it impossible to reach her.
The award’s announcement Friday cheered many in China’s fractured, persecuted dissident community and brought calls from the U.S., Germany and others for Liu’s release, but it infuriated China, which called him a criminal.