Norway PM to visit China after Nobel Peace Prize row
Relations resumed after dispute over award of the prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo seven years ago
Norway’s prime minister said on Friday she would travel to China next week to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, as part of repairing ties more than six years after Beijing froze Oslo out over the Nobel Peace Prize award to an imprisoned Chinese dissident.
Erna Solberg said she was “happy that we now normalise our diplomatic and political relations with China”.
“Direct contact with the Chinese leadership is important for a solid and predictable relationship characterised by mutual interests, trust and understanding,” Solberg said. She will visit China from April 7-10.
In 2010, Norway’s Nobel committee awarded Liu Xiaobo the peace prize, infuriating China. Liu is still imprisoned in northern China.
Although Norway’s government has no say over the Nobel panel’s choices, China suspended a bilateral trade deal and restricted imports of Norwegian salmon.
Liu was convicted of subversion in 2009 and sentenced to 11 years in prison after he wrote and disseminated “Charter 08”, a document calling for democracy.
Beijing had always demanded that Norway recognise the error of awarding the prize to Liu, but was not specific about what it wanted. China had characterised the award as “gross interference” in its affairs.
In December, the countries said normal relations had resumed.
The foreign ministry then said Norway “made important and explicit statements on issues concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Solberg noted it would be the first visit to China by a Norwegian prime minister in a decade.
She will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Borge Brende and a trade delegation.
“China is our largest trading partner in Asia. The normalisation will create significant opportunities for Norwegian industry and workplaces. We want to resume negotiations on a free-trade agreement with China,” she said.
Solberg’s visit to Beijing comes after Xi plans to meet US President Donald Trump in Florida on Thursday and Friday.