Norway’s official State Visit to Beijing and Shanghai

HM King Harald and HM Queen Sonja of Norway’s State Visit to China has come to an end after the official part of the week-long programme took them to both Beijing and Shanghai.

Norway-China Business Summit 2018 was held in Beijing on 16 October themed ‘Pioneering sustainable solutions. The visiting King of Norway Harald V and Gu Shengzu, Vice Chairman of China’s top political advisory body attended and addressed the opening ceremony.

According to China Council for the Promotion Of International Trade (CCPIT) Gu Shengzu noted that China attaches great importance to the relations with Norway. Gu expected that both sides can continue to build up mutual trust and give more impetus to the traditional friendship and practical cooperation. The economic and trade cooperation between China and Norway is complementary, mutually-beneficial and win-win. China is willing to share market and development benefits with Norway, jointly promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and ensure the development of digital economy and cyber security.

Nearly 1,000 delegates from governments, chambers of commerce and industry and entrepreneurs of both countries attended the summit, which was co-hosted by China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and Innovation Norway.

Chairperson of CCPIT Gao Yan attended and addressed the opening ceremony. Witnessed by Chinese president Xi Jinping and King of Norway Harald V, CCPIT and Innovation Norway signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) later in the day.

Sino-Norwegian Symposium speech

In his speech at the opening of the ‘Sino-Norwegian Symposium for Social Disciplines’ in Bejing King Harald said that together with the Queen the King has had the opportunity and privilege to pay four official visits to China. “The great contrasts within your country, the diversity of its landscapes, and the richness of your culture never cease to fascinate us.”

“Through these decades, from the first visit in 1985, then again in 1997, in 2008, and now in 2018, we have witnessed China opening up to the world and gaining prosperity. We commend China for its achievements. Thanks to the Chinese people’s determination and hard work, you have reduced poverty on an unprecedented scale,” the Norwegian King continued.

The goal set by China for 2020 not only to eradicate poverty, but to build a ‘moderately prosperous society in all respects’ might at first glance seem like a modest goal. “However, it reflects the understanding deeply rooted in Chinese culture and experience that prosperity is not just a question of individual income. This is a much more ambitious goal. You are aiming for better welfare for all.”

“This is a goal shared by both our countries. And this is why our top experts have gathered here today at the prestigious Chinese Academy for Social Sciences for a fruitful discussion about exchange of ideas on common challenges related to the welfare state,” the King continued.

“Our nations may have different histories and cultures. But one of the things that make our nations great and unite us is the ambition to create welfare for all. In this process, we wish to learn from each other.”

The King then turned to how China and Norway share global concerns; concerning the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The consensus on these goals is particularly important at a time when the principles of multilateral order and cooperation are being questioned. We will never achieve this set of goals without global cooperation. Indeed, strengthening and revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development is a goal in itself.”

“At the same time, we should not underestimate the importance that one country’s efforts can have. The action taken by China has been pivotal. No country has contributed more to Goal number one: ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’,” continued King Harald and said that fighting climate change is a top priority for both countries.

“The world is looking to China, because the steps you take here have a huge impact. I am pleased that we share a strong commitment to the environment, and that we are working together in several areas, not least ocean protection.”

The King also reflected upon Norway’s development and abundance of natural resources. “To ensure that natural resources benefit the whole of society, we are dependent on sound management and good governance. This requires good planning and political will.”

“I would like to remind all of you who are students and researchers of how important it is to think independently, to work in teams, and to gain cross-cultural understanding. You all have the potential to make a real difference, to help build an even better future for the coming generations,” the King ended.

Their Majesties were met with pomp and splendour when they met President Xi Jinping in the People’s Store Hall.

Sino-Norwegian friendship dinner

Their Majesties the King and Queen also hosted a friendship evening, bringing together Norwegian and Chinese guests. In his speech at this ‘Sino-Norwegian friendship dinner’ at the Phoenix Centre in Beijing the King described the State Visit so far as a truly cultural journey – which would also be the theme for the evening event, he invited.

“Throughout the history of both our nations, we have shared a close relationship with the sea. For both our peoples, the oceans have inspired curiosity and courage. They have given us valuable resources that have helped to drive our economies. Being out at sea can also help us to see things from a broader perspective. And, not least, can bring us great peace of mind. We hope you will see, hear, taste and perhaps even feel the ocean this evening,” said King Harald.

“It is also a great pleasure to welcome you all to a musical variety show. We will hear music from the past, the present and the future, presented by artists from Norway and China.”

Prosperous seafood trade

As part of the Norwegian Business Delegation to China the Norwegian Seafood Council in collaboration with Innovation Norway welcomed to a parallel session on ‘Prosperous Seafood Trade Between Norway and China’. The seafood session was part of the business program “Pioneering Ocean Opportunities” in Shanghai.

China is already one of the most important markets for Norwegian seafood, and Norwegian seafood holds a strong position among the Chinese industry and consumers. The session addressed future seafood trade between Norway and China.

Another ocean-related event took place on 18 October where He Li, Cao Man and Professor Kathinka Furst from the Blue Pioneers programme discussed the issue ‘How to involve civil society and entrepreneurs to ensure sustainable oceans?’ with Their Majesties and Paradise Foundations (a non profit organization that focuses on protecting prestigious lands and waters around the by Jack Ma).

Multiple agreements

According to Innovation Norway during the state visit in China, Norwegian and Chinese parties would sign around 40 agreements. In Shanghai the delegation had “over 300 business stops in place”.

For the first time, Innovation Norway signed an agreement with their Chinese counterpart CCPIT. The goal is to help Norwegian companies even better when they are betting in China. The agreement was signed in the presence of Norwegian King and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister Eriksen Soreide and China’s Cultural Minister Luo Shugang witnessed the signing of a letter of intent between the Munch Museum, the National Museum of China and Shanghai Museum announcing Munch exhibitions in Beijing and Shanghai next year!

In connection with the state visit to China, Handelshøyskolen (BI) signed an agreement with Tsinghua University to strengthen industry and technology cooperation between Norway and China.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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