Norway and China want conflict behind them

Three years of a diplomatic freeze between the top level contact in China and Norway seems to be phasing out, Norwegian news desk reports.

The new government in China can be the way out of that diplomatic crisis, which the relationship between China and Norway has suffered under the past three years. That is what Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) last weekend.

It was the Nobel committee´s decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010 that provoked the Chinese government. It blamed the Norwegian government for awarding the prize to someone the Chinese leaders view as a criminal. From that moment all top level contact ceased between China and Norway.

The optimistic reaction from Espen Barth Eide comes after a meeting in Brunei of ASEAN in July where he had the chance to meet the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“We must remember that the dissatisfaction with the Peace Prize is an issue from the previous Chinese regime. Now there is new leadership in China, and they seem interested in easing relations. I got a very positive impression of my new Chinese colleague,” Eide said to DN.

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“At the ASEAN meeting in Phnom Penh last year, China appeared quite cold. Now the situation was entirely different,” he added, and left the impression, that it is an expressed desire by both sides to loosen up the relationship.

The crisis has had its consequences for Norwegian export in China. The salmon export has dived and other industries have felt punished by Chinese authorities as well.

If there is a defrosting on its way, it will be very good news, Ulf Sverdrup of the Norwegian foreign policy institute NUPI told DN.
“China is important for Norway, so good relations with China are very important. If the Norwegian government manages to normalize relations with China it will be very good news,” he said.

Accoring to the news desk NewsInEnglish Espen Barth Eide has invited Wang Yi to visit Svalbart, and he noted that the Chinese authorities have shown great interest in how Norway and Russia resolved their border issues in the Barents Sea.

“The new leadership wants to ease relations to its neighbours (which include Russia) and that’s also positive for Norway,” Eide said.

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