Common Grounds and Long-term Perspective:Basis for Developing China-Norway Relations

Having taken the post of Chinese ambassador in Norway for about one month, I feel it's time to greet the Norwegian people.

When I entered Norwegian air on flight HU769 of Hainan Airlines on the dawn of July 1st, the warm sunshine around the Arctic area, the vast forests with a quiet elegance and the houses dotting among the dark-blue fjords struck me with wonder. The nature of Norway revealed to me at first sight with its quietness, simplicity and beauty, while the sleeping countryside emitted a scent of solitude and coldness. This reminded me of a well-known saying in the diplomatic circle: the natural environment is sometimes distinct from the working one. Indeed, when I paid my courtesy visits to Mr. Sigvald Hauge, acting Director-General of the Protocol Department of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry's Secretary-General Mr. Tore Hattrem, their enthusiasm, friendliness and sincerity filled me with confidence of working in Norway.

It's known that China-Norway relations have experienced a six-year stagnation, which was a loss and a lesson for both countries and the two peoples. While now, the normalization of our bilateral relationship has entered upon it's third year, and a sound momentum of cooperation has been maintained following the guidance of the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Norway. At a time when major opportunities lie in front of our two countries,  I feel that I shoulder great responsibility to serve as Chinese Ambassador to Norway.

Before I came here, I read a few books about Norway. I learned that although China and Norway are thousands of miles apart and have different national conditions, the two countries have quite a lot in common. We both enjoy a beautiful landscape with long coastlines and large sea areas. Both the Chinese and the Norwegian people are hardworking, kind and honest, and we share the hard experiences of tenaciously resisting foreign aggression. Our political parties are all pragmatic and forward-looking, committed to contributing a better life for the people. Moreover, both countries stick to the pursuit of peace and harmony, with the well-being of the world in mind, and both are playing an important and positive role in the international arena. When I visited the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in the early 1990s, what people discussed most was Norway's mediation in the Palestine-Israel conflict. When I served as the Chinese ambassador in Sri Lanka, people talked a lot about the Norwegian efforts for the peace process between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. At present, Norway is engaged in mediating in the internal disputes of Venezuela. The role Norway plays in internationalism and world peace is exactly the same as the ideas of "peace being of paramount importance", "seek common ground while reserving differences" in China's diplomacy, as well as its unremitting efforts and contributions to peace. What we have in common indicates that the bases for China-Norway relationship is fertile. As long as both sides take good care of it, our relationship will undoubtedly flourish.

Norway is one of the countries with the highest happiness index in the world. The social security system is mature and the class and gender equality is quite high. Norway leads in the fields of maritime and oceaneering, energy, polar affairs, climate change issues, and sustainable development. China though, through 41 years of reform and opening up, has made tremendous progress and become an engine of the world economy. China is among the leading source of international patents with one of the world's largest high-tech industry. China also leads the innovation fields such as high-speed rail, mobile payment, 5G, and social affairs such as poverty alleviation. In the next 30 years, to achieve its second Centenary Goal, China is pursuing better-quality, more efficient, fairer and more sustainable development while following the path of further opening and international cooperation, which are very much in line with the ideas of development in Norway. China and Norway can and should learn from each other to achieve common development.

Before coming to Norway, I was reminded by a friend to read again "A Doll's House", the immortal masterpiece of the famous Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, to sense the inconstancy and hypocrisy of Torvald Helmer, which is not a pure literary fiction of the 19th century. After I came to Norway, I noted that the Norwegian media pay close attention to China, but some reports on China are totally out of facts and full of ideological prejudice, even malicious slanders. They are quite stingy with their words when it comes to China's development and progress, even deliberately turning a blind eye to it. We appreciate criticism and advice, but oppose imposing one's idea on others, telling right from wrong based on preference rather than facts, and selecting contents for prejudgment. Some media reports about Hong Kong and Xinjiang-region in China openly glorified violence and discredited China's legitimate anti-terrorism and de-extrimalization measures. It is not in line with the character and integrity of the Norwegian people to see China through tinted glasses and with double standards, or parroting others' biased stories without screening the truth, neither is it conducive to enhancing mutual understanding between our two peoples and consolidating trust between the two countries.

I visited more than 60 countries around the world and learned the differences between countries and the diversity of politics, culture and society. There is no identical political model in the world, neither is there a one-size-fit-all path for development. The "Nordic model" is not suitable for China no matter how good it is. Likewise, if copied blindly by other countries, the "China Path" may not work no matter how successful it is in China.The key to P. R. China's success since it's founding 70 years ago is to stick to the path that suits its national conditions, and that has won the support of the Chinese people. I welcome Norwegian friends, especially friends from the media, to visit China and experience for yourselves the development of China. I also appreciate your advice with sincerity and goodwill.

The world today is undergoing profound and complex changes. International rules, multilateral mechanisms and globalization are facing various serious challenges. In this context, which direction should China and Norway follow up? I believe, we should not allow our vision blocked by floating clouds, while take a long-term perspective in dealing with challenges and troubles of the present world.

Firstly, we must have determination to develop our bilateral relations. It is in the interest of both peoples to strengthen cooperation between China and Norway. The two sides should continue to consolidate political mutual trust, deepen pragmatic cooperation including economy and trade, ocean, climate change and polar affairs, encourage people-to-people and cultural exchanges, so as to sustain the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations.

Secondly, we should have confidence in the trend of our great time. The human being has passed from isolation to openness and all countries' interests are closely intertwined. Protectionism and "me first" policy are against the historical trend and will only lead to a dead end. China and Norway should stand on our common concerns and interests, have a long-term view of development, and avoid going in the wrong direction at the crossroads of history.

Thirdly, we must hold firm to our original commitments to multilateralism and the international order. What inspired us to advocate and pursue multilateralism since the World War II should never be forgotten. We should work together to uphold the international order with the United Nations at its core as well as the multilateral trading system centered by the World Trade Organization. We should forge a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, build a community with a shared future for mankind, and contribute to lasting peace and common prosperity of the world.

As the Chinese ambassador, I look forward to learning from and working together with friends in Norway, and do my best to develop our bilateral relations.

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