Back in 2002, Kjell Magne Bondevik, then prime minister of Norway, was greeted warmly in Beijing.
Now, according to Aftonposten, he can't even get a visa to attend the World Council of Churches in Nanjing this week, with no explanation given at all. What gives?
The former premier himself points to the obvious culprit — the award of a Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese Activist Liu Xiaobo in 2010. Since that point in time multiple Norwegians have mysteriously been denied visas to China, with no explanation at all.
However, since 2010, the row has escalated — and it now contains a key aspect of what China sees as its future.
Norway has been attempting to block China from gaining a permanent observer seat at the Arctic Council. China desperately wants a seat at that board — the melting of Arctic ice could present the country with a drastically improved shipping route for North America and Europe, not to mention all the natural resource goodies that could be found under the ice. It it's bid for a place in the great Arctic game, they've been cozying up to Denmark, Greenland and Iceland.
Some had apparently hoped that the arrival of a new ambassador in Oslo was a sign of a thaw. But the fact remains, to get a seat at the Arctic Council they need votes from all eight members. From the looks of it, China is still pissed.
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