Norway-China Relations: Salmon Diplomacy

The selection of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobofor this year’s Noble Peace Prize has led to increasing strains on China-Norway diplomatic relations in the weeks following the award’s announcement. Regardless of Norway’s insistence on the independent nature of the Nobel committee, China’s string of rebuffs have been dramatic. But there is hope still, and it comes fresh from the fjords of Norway.

Turns out where diplomacy fails, 8,734 pieces of sushi does the trick.

That’s how many pieces composed the world’s largest ever sushi mosaic constructed at the Norway pavilion of Shanghai Expo last Saturday, finally earning China one award it actually wants: a Guinness World Record. Chefs worked for over six hours constructing the 20 meter mosaic, using 120 kilos of rice and 65 kilos of Norwegian salmon.

The mosaic was created as part of a larger celebration to commemorate the arrival of the 10,000,000th Norwegian salmon to China. In 2009, their salmon exports to China alone totaled NOK 780 million ($131 million), so it’s no surprise they are looking to keep the fishier side of their relations smooth. They even created a website to follow the journey of the 10 millionth salmon online!

The diplomatic fallout from the Nobel Peace Prize has been no small matter. So far, China has canceled multiple meetings with the Norwegian fisheries minister, canceled a Norwegian musical scheduled for Beijing next month, called off a Chinese military delegation meeting in Oslo, canceled a Chinese research visit to Norway, and threatened a free-trade agreement between the countries that has been two years in the making. But with this new award, maybe Norway’s finally gotten off the hook?

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