Chinese authorities have rejected Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre’s latest effort last week to normalize relations between the two countries, and ministry officials appear disappointed. It remains unclear who will make the next move now, although the Chinese say they expect more “tangible efforts” from the Norwegians, tells the online media, newsinenglish.no
The two sides have been communicating recently through Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), since direct high-level contact froze with last year’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Chinese authorities have been blaming the Norwegian government for the award that embarrassed and angered them, even though the Norwegian Nobel Committee operates independently of the government and Parliament.
Støre launched the latest round of diplomatic overtures by publishing a lengthy commentary in DN last week and telling the paper that he and his government colleagues have taken China’s angry reaction to the Peace Prize seriously and “understand” that the Chinese are upset. He made no apology, since the government can’t take responsibility for the Nobel Committee’s decisions, but Støre also praised China’s social and economic progress and made it clear the current freeze in relations was untenable.
Now the Chinese seem most angry over the Norwegian government’s expressions of support for the Peace Prize to Liu, not just that the Nobel Committee made the award. Chinese authorities initially seemed to hold the Norwegian government responsible for the Peace Prize.
A leading consultant on Chinese relations, Henning Kristoffersen, told DN that “it’s absolutely positive” that the Chinese stress how important the Norwegian-Chinese relationship is. “But then they also boost how serious it is that the Norwegian government supported the Nobel Committee’s decision,” Kristoffersen told DN. He thinks the Chinese now expect direct contact from Støre, according to newsinenglish.no.