BEIJING – China signaled no end Wednesday to a two-year-old frost in ties with Norway prompted by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo.
Comments from Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu were the government's first on the tensions since Chinese writer Mo Yan won the Nobel for literature in October. That victory, the first literature win by a Chinese citizen, was widely cheered by the Chinese government, in stark contrast to the condemnation with which it greeted Liu's award.
Ma told reporters it remained up to Norway to repair the rift that has seen trade ties disrupted and political contacts put on hold. Specialty products with a strong national identity — such as fjord-farmed salmon — have been slapped with import restrictions and Norwegian companies doing business in China have had problems with staff visas and other obstacles.
"I hope Norway will value bilateral relations and work for the restoration and development of ties," Ma told reporters at a briefing.
Repeating previous statements, Ma accused Norway's government of supporting the Nobel jury's 2010 decision, despite the fact that Oslo cannot interfere with its rulings, whether it agrees with them or not. The award infuriated China, which accused Norway of honoring a criminal.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is due to attend next week's Asia-Europe Meetings in Laos alongside Norwegian officials who are taking part in the gathering for the first time.