Norway recognized the young People’s Republic on 7 January 1950, one of the first Western countries to do so. Four years later Norway and China established diplomatic relations on 5 October 1954 and set up embassies in the respective capitals, Oslo and Beijing.
Norway and China have enjoyed, and still enjoy, excellent relations in many areas, and our joint history also goes beyond the 55 years of diplomtic relations. Norway with 4,7 million inhabitants and China with 1/5 of the world’s population, located far away from each other, may seem not to have the most natural basis for developing relations but the history tells the opposite. Areas of mutual interest and trust have in recent years expanded from politics, economy and trade, to other sectors, including environmental protection, cultural exchanges, research collaboration and ecducation.
The frequency of high level visits is a signal that the relations are highly treasured on both sides. King Harald, Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon visited China during the Beijing Olympics in August. This was the third visit of the Royal Family to China.
China’s importance to Norway is also reflected in the expansion of Norwegian diplomatic presence in the country. In addition to our Embassy in Beijing and our Consulate General in Shanghai, we opened a new Consulate General in Guangzhou one year ago. Over the last few years, we have seen that economic growth in China directly influences the Norwegian economy and trade. Both countries have therefore recognized the mutual benefits of a free trade agreement (FTA) and negotiations are ongoing. In Norway, there is an increasing interest in China as a travel destination, as a business opportunity and as a cultural source. We have also witnessed a significant increase in Chinese visitors to Norway, the main attraction being the mountains and the fjords.
It is my hope that the relations between China and Norway will continue to expand in the years to come. Norway wants to learn more about China, we want to be China’s partner in its development, in its international cooperation and addressing common opportunities and challenges.
Svein O. Sæther
28 August 2009