Liu Xiaobo

Nobel prize apology call by Chinese ambassador

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 May, 2011, 12:00am


Related topics

Norway's government will have to apologise for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo if Sino-Norwegian ties are to be repaired, the Chinese ambassador was quoted as saying.

Ambassador Tang Guoqiang said at a Chinese language competition at the Confucius Institute in Bergen that the Nobel award had made the relationship between the countries very difficult.

Marit Warncke, the managing director of the Bergen Chamber of Commerce, who was at the event on Saturday, said: 'Tang believed that Norway showed disrespect towards China and offering an apology is the right thing to do.'

And according to Dan Femoen, a member of the Hordaland county council, Tang said relations with Norway had been made difficult by the prize to Liu.

He said Tang had made a small speech to a group of about 15 people, which included teachers at the institute, politicians, business representatives and Bergen Mayor Gunnar Bakke.

'Tang said he could not think the damage could be fixed before China received an apology from the Norwegian government,' Femoen said.

'He spoke clearly and with emotion.' According to a transcript posted on the Chinese embassy website late yesterday, Tang said the Norwegian government's support of the Nobel Committee's decision had seriously hurt the relationship between the two countries.

'The Norwegian government should take effective measures to remove the negative impact arising from this,' Tang was quoted as saying in the embassy's release, without mention of the word 'apology'.

Beijing was angered when the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which is composed of five members appointed by the country's parliament, awarded the prize to Liu.

Liu was jailed in 2009 for 11 years for inciting subversion of state power for co-authoring Charter 08, a petition calling for democratic reform.

Beijing called the awarding of the peace prize to Liu an 'anti-China farce' and pressured envoys to boycott the ceremony.

Since then, one of the tangible signs of the damaged ties between the countries is the indefinite suspension of talks on a free-trade agreement, which would be the first such deal with a European country.

Mayor Bakke said Tang did not say explicitly a trade agreement would be impossible if the apology were not made, 'but he pointed out the problem'.

Tang also asked his audience to influence the Norwegian government to restore ties between the two countries.

And he said Norwegian Trade and Industry Minister Trond Giske had not been in contact with the Chinese embassy to push forward discussing the trade deal.

A spokesman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said they were working to enhance the relationship with China but noted that the prize was made independently of the Norwegian government.

Shi Yinhong , a professor at Renmin University, suggested that both governments could take a step back and make compromises to restore ties.