Thaw of Sino-Norwegian ties comes a long way

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/9 23:53:39

On Friday, during Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg's visit to China, China and Norway signed a package of cooperation initiatives. They also signed a pact to restart free trade negotiations.

It is promising for both Norwegian seafood producers and Chinese consumers, as Norwegian businesspeople can now sell billions of kroner worth of salmon to the vast Chinese market. But the mutually beneficial deals have come a long way. As an old Chinese saying goes, "No discord, no concord." The relationship between China and Norway is the very manifestation of this pattern.

Solberg's visit is the first by a Norwegian prime minister since the two resumed diplomatic relations last December after a six-year hiatus. In 2010, the Oslo-based Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Since then, relations between China and Norway had been on ice. The two agreed to normalize ties after Norway pledged to respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The discord between Beijing and Oslo is not unique in China's relations with other European countries.

In 2007, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, despite strong Chinese opposition. Likewise, in 2008 China quit an EU summit that France was to host after then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy met with the separatist Dalai Lama. However, realizing that "China has become an absolutely indispensable actor on the world stage," Sarkozy visited China in 2010 to mend relations.

China's rise was accompanied by such ideological clashes with the West, but the two sides have enhanced understanding during the process. It is expected that such clashes can reduce, but the key lies in whether we develop ties based on mutual respect. The evolution of China-Norway relations is not a zero-sum game, but comes as the two countries have realized that the precondition of building up political mutual trust is to respect each other's core interests.

While the Western media often blame China for converting its economic power into strategic influence, China plays the economic game by rules. When economic means can bridge ideological differences, utilizing this approach to bring common interests is the wise way.

A strained bilateral relationship does no good to either side, as both need each other to prop up their own economies and improve the livelihoods of their peoples. Now Norwegian salmon producers will feel the benefit, and Chinese people can enjoy a delicious meal with Norwegian salmon on their table.

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