China, Norway make tentative contact following Nobel row

Government officials from Oslo and Beijing stood together for pictures at a diplomatic event this week, in the first show of solidarity since Norway drew fire from China by awarding a Chinese dissident the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

The European-Asian summit, held in Laos, was attended by Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, in addition to head state officials from Bangladesh and Switzerland.

Stoltenberg told the media that he had a “brief” conversation with his Chinese counterpart, but offered little insight into the future of the relationship between the two countries.

He said, “It is the first time that Norway has joined this meeting place, and so it’s natural to say thank you for the support that has made this possible. We would like to have normal political relations with China, and when that’s possible we will say so,” the AFP reports.

Stoltenberg added, “I do not want to speculate on the significance of Norway getting accepted into this forum, but in it we see a positive contribution to a closer dialogue with the participating countries, which includes China.”

The news comes more than two years after the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to writer and outspoken human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who remains a fugitive of the Chinese government. Following the announcement, China broke off ties with Oslo, despite the fact that the Nobel committee is officially separate – albeit loosely affiliated – with the Norwegian government.