Posts Tagged ‘Financial Times’

China and its amazing sensitivity on Human Rights Defenders

December 6, 2012

Most of you are aware that a group of 134 Nobel laureates wrote to Chinese Communist Party chief and future president, Xi Jinping, urging him to release Liu, who won the peace prize two years ago (and to release his wife). China of course maintains that Liu is a criminal and decries such criticism as unwarranted interference in its internal affairs. Remarkable is that Mo, the first Chinese national to win the $1.2 million literature prize – in Stockholm to receive the award – refused to express support for Liu, and defended censorship as sometimes necessary, comparing it to security checks at airports. “I have said this prize is about literature. Not for politics,” said the 57-year-old whose adopted pen name Mo Yan means “don’t speak”[!!].

Now the latest twist according to the Financial Times of 6 December 2012 is that China has excluded Norway – as the only European country – from its visa-free regime for visitors.  When asked why Norway was left off the list, Wang Qin, a senior official at the Beijing government travel administration, did not respond directly but said that some countries were not eligible because their citizens or government were “of low-quality” and “badly behaved”.

Chinese-Norwegian ties have been in diplomatic deep freeze ever since imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Immediately afterwards, Beijing suspended negotiations with Oslo over a bilateral free trade agreement and those talks have not yet resumed in spite of the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of five individuals appointed by the Norwegian parliament and that Government has no say in the selection (although it is true that committee members always are Norwegian nationals). China has refused visas to many Norwegian journalists, scientists and businesspeople and cancelled numerous political and diplomatic meetings. According to the same FT article earlier this year senior Chinese diplomats insisted Norway must “recognise its mistakes and take steps to correct them” and Norwegian exports have been affected.

The continued harsh treatment of Norway is a signal that when it comes to human rights China remains extra-ordinarily sensitive. One can only hope that the other (European) will show that they will be not intimidated and show solidarity with Norway e.g. by refusing the visa free offer unless Norway is included.