The ambassador of China in Oslo has called on Norwegian officials to apologise for handing the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese human rights activist last year.
The Chinese government has said that an apology for awarding the prize to Liu Xiaobo would improve Norwegian-Chinese relations, which have become increasingly important for China in recent years due to Arctic interests.
The news follows the 2010 appointment of an independent panel to select Nobel Peace Prize winners. The panel chose Liu Xiaobo for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China,” the Barents Observer reports. The dissident remains incarcerated and viewed as a criminal in China.
However Oslo has since acknowledged China’s stance and has responded by saying that the decision to award Liu was independent from government affairs and that it wanted to maintain a positive relationship with the Asian nation.
Norwegian Government spokeswoman Marte Lerberg Kopstad said to the AFP: “The Norwegian government believes that it is in the best interest of both countries to maintain a good relationship and continue to co-operate in areas of mutual interest,” according to the Barents Observer.
The past several years have seen China express increasing interest in Norway’s ice-free routes for cargo ships as well as its reserves of oil and gas. It also seeks to influence Norway’s role in the Arctic Council, a co-operative union of Arctic states.