Norway told by China not to ‘politicise’ Nobel Peace Prize

China's foreign minister on Thursday sought a speedy conclusion to a free trade deal with Norway but warned Oslo against "politicising" the Nobel by awarding another Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident.

Norway told by China not to 'politicise' Nobel Peace Prize
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi makes an elbow bump with Norway's Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide in Oslo on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Talks on a free-trade pact began in 2008, but relations between Oslo and Beijing were frozen from 2010 to 2016 after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident, Liu Xiabao.

Negotiations resumed in 2017.

“Given the impact of Covid-19, early completion of the China-Norway FTA negotiations is of great significance to the bilateral economic bilateral relations and trade as well as to the efforts to keep the global supply chain open and connected,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters during a visit to Oslo as part of a European tour.

“The two sides need to speed up the negotiation and bring it to early conclusion,” he said.

But the minister warned against “interference” when asked about a proposal to nominate the people of Hong Kong for a Nobel, mooted last year by Norwegian politician Guri Melby, now the minister of education and immigration. Melby is a candidate to become the new leader of the centre-right Liberal party, a junior partner in the government.

Beginning in 2019, Hong Kong saw seven straight months of huge pro-democracy protests, culminating in the passing in June 2020 of a new national security law for Hong Kong by China’s top legislature, severely curbing the freedom of expression of people in the territory.

“In the past, and today, in the future, China will firmly reject any attempt by anyone to use the Nobel Peace Prize to interfere in China's internal affairs. This position of the Chinese side is rock-firm and we do not want to see anyone politicising the Nobel Peace Prize,” Wang said.

This year's Nobel peace prize will be announced in Oslo on October 9th.


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China derides Copenhagen democracy meet as ‘political farce’

China on Tuesday blasted a democracy conference in Copenhagen attended by Taiwan's president and a Hong Kong activist alongside Danish government officials this week, qualifying it a "political farce".

China derides Copenhagen democracy meet as 'political farce'
Demonstrators gathered outside the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Tuesday. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Copenhagen Democracy Summit was held Monday and Tuesday in the Danish capital and organised by the Alliance of Democracies, an organisation targeted by Beijing sanctions in March and founded by former NATO boss Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

In addition to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod also participated in the forum by video link, which Beijing said violated “the one-China principle.”

“This summit is a political farce,” the Chinese embassy in Denmark wrote in a statement published on Tuesday. “Inviting those who advocate Taiwan and Hong Kong ‘independence’ to the meeting violates the one-China principle and interferes in China’s internal affairs,” it said.

“Some hypocritical western politicians are good at meddling in other countries’ internal affairs and creating divisions and confrontation in the name of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’. They are bound to fail,” it added.

At the conference on Monday, Kofod said it was “deplorable” that Beijing had imposed sanctions on 10 European individuals and organisations in response to EU sanctions on Xinjiang officials over their actions against the Uyghur Muslim minority.

Like most countries, Denmark applies the one-China principle — under which Beijing bars other countries from having simultaneous diplomatic relations with Taipei — though it does maintain relations with Taiwan.

Cut off politically from the rest of China since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the territory is self-governing but is not recognised by
the United Nations.

Beijing considers Taiwan a rebel province that will one day return under its control, by force if necessary.

China’s sabre-rattling has increased considerably over the past year, with fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers breaching Taiwan’s air defence zone on a near-daily basis.

“Our government is fully aware of the threats to regional security, and is actively enhancing our national defence capabilities to protect our
democracy,” Tsai told the conference in a video address on Monday. US President Joe Biden is expected to present his China strategy soon, as
calls mount for him to publicly commit to defending Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.