Norwegian FM’s China visit strengthens Beijing-Oslo ties


At the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide is in China now for an important official visit from February 5 to 7. He met with Wang Yi and other government officials.

2024 marks the 70th anniversary of China-Norway diplomatic relations. During his 2018 China state visit, Norwegian King Harald V and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to strengthen China-Norway ties and begin a new chapter of engagement. Norway’s policy of strategic autonomy and support for the one-China principle are always appreciated by China.

Regular communication is crucial with China, given its significant influence in both international politics and the global economy. Before Espen Barth Eide started his trip this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said at a press conference that China “stands ready to work with Norway and take this visit as an opportunity to consolidate political mutual trust” and deepen practical cooperation.

Trade and investment have dominated the bilateral relationship. As Norway depends on the fish and seafood industry, China’s big demand for imported seafood can drive Oslo’s economic growth. Camilla Beck of the Norwegian Seafood Council said China is one of Norway’s most promising seafood markets. Fishing is not merely a source of revenue for Norwegians; it is an integral element of who they are.

Chinese middle-class development is driving demand for salmon, Norway’s largest fishing business. Norway sold 23,500 metric tons of salmon to China in the first half of 2023, up 67 percent over last year. China is also Norway’s biggest Asian export market for cod, trout, and mackerel.

Norwegian and Chinese initiatives are complementary and go beyond seafood consumption increase. Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers including BYD, NIO, and Xpeng favor Norway’s market due to its strong EV sales. Norway is among the first destinations for Chinese new energy vehicles (NEV) producers in the worldwide market, with Norwegian imports of Chinese electric cars, gadgets, and clothes rising.

Future potential includes seafood trade growth, Chinese EVs, and supply chain development to promote good change. China and Norway should also work together to overcome environmental concerns including carbon emissions and ageing populations. They have developed energy and green business collaboration since 2017.

Twenty-eight Norwegian firms in food, agriculture, consumer goods, medical equipment, and healthcare participated in the sixth China International Import Expo in 2023, showing increasing interest in the Chinese market. China and Norway must expand trade in seafood, consumer goods, IT services, renewable energy, health products, and smart city solutions for mutual benefit.

Relations between China and Norway extend beyond trade agreement talks. The two countries should collaborate to complete the China-Norway Free Trade Agreement, promote global liberal commerce and supply chains, and create a nondiscriminatory business environment for both sides.

Norwegian growth is boosted by the Chinese-built Halogaland Bridge in Narvi. Since November 17, 2023, China has allowed citizens from 53 countries including Norway to transit and stay in China for a period of 72 hours without a visa. Through its reform and opening-up policy, China has welcomed the globe. Norwegian investors and enterprises are welcome to visit China to harness its market of 1.4 billion consumers.

Espen Barth Eide’s visit to China shows that the two countries can lead science, technology, and innovation and create a more sustainable future by showcasing their diverse relationships. Greater intergovernmental engagement might provide many more possibilities for both states and help achieve sustainable development objectives.

China and Norway, as peace searchers, peace lovers, and human rights advocates, may play a structural role in global human rights governance by adopting a multilateral UN strategy to mitigate world crises like the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Israel-Gaza war, and geopolitical crisis.

Different views on certain subjects should not hamper conversation and collaboration between the two nations. Norway must acknowledge that human rights promotion and protection vary by nation and culture. China fosters human rights in its own manner.

Both states should embrace multilateralism. For example, they can deepen pragmatic cooperation in all fields within the Belt and Road Initiative, Global Development Initiative, and Global Security Initiative frameworks.‚Äč


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