China, Norway Reconciled after 6-Year Rift over Chinese Dissident’s Nobel Peace Prize

Xi Jinping and Erna Solberg Norwegian Prime Minister visits China, Beijing - 10 Apr 2017 Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) poses with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg (L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 10 April 2017. Photo: Yosei Kanasashi/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • Chinese and Norwegian state leaders have met for the first time since the end of the 6-year diplomatic rift.
  • Rift had been caused by the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiobao.
  • Chinese President Xi has said the visit by Norwegian Prime Minister to Beijing carries ‘a lot of significance’.

China and Norway’s state leaders have met for the first time since the two country fell out over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo back in 2010.

Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison on a conviction of subversion back in 2009. He is known as a fierce critic of China’s one party rule, and had written a manuscript calling for democracy.

China’s government reacted strongly to the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo.

It suspended diplomatic relations and trade with Norway, including the imports of Norwegian salmon, regardless of the fact that the Norwegian government has no say in the decisions of the Nobel Committee, which is based in Norway’s capital Oslo.

In 2010, China deemed the Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize award a “meddling” in its internal affairs and urged Norway to recognize the “error” of awarding it to him.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in December 2016 that Norway had made “important and explicit statements on issues concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, thus paving the way for the normalization of their relations.

‘Normization’

The reconciliation between China and Norway after six years of diplomatic conflict was sealed on Monday, as Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Beijing, DW reported.

It was the first visit from a Norwegian Prime Minister to China in a decade.

Chinese President Xi Jimping lauded the normalization of relations between his country and Norway.

“Your visit this time holds a lot of significance,” Xi is quoted as saying.

“This is the first high-level visit since the normalization of China-Norway relations in December,” he added.

Xi Jinping and Erna Solberg
Norwegian Prime Minister visits China, Beijing – 10 Apr 2017
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) speaks with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg (2-L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 10 April 2017. Others are not identified members of their respective delegations. Solberg arrived for an official visit to China for meetings with government officials. Photo: Yosei Kanasashi/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in Beijing she was “delighted” to be back in China.

She also announced that Norway’s king would be visiting China in 2018 after he was invited by Xi.

On Friday, Solberg met Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and signed several documents outlining issues of cooperation between their two nations, Norway with its population of 5 million and China with its population of over 1.3 billion people.

Those included an agreement to resume negotiations on a Chinese-Norwegian free-trade deal.

Chinese President Xi mentioned that Norway was one of the first Western countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China and also one of the earliest to acknowledge its status as a market economy.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s visit to China was due to be completed on Tuesday.

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