|Frozen Norway-China relations "untenable" -formin|
| [11.10.2011, 09:14am, Tue. GMT]|
|Norway's frosty relationship with China since last year's award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo is "unnatural and untenable" and has hurt Norwegian industry, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a newspaper on Tuesday.The awarding of the prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to democracy campaigner Liu, serving an 11-year jail sentence for subversion, infuriated Beijing, which called the decision a "political farce" and boycotted the award ceremony.|
There have been no top-level bilateral political meetings since the announcement of the award in October 2010, but at least two firms in energy-hungry China have taken over or bought stakes in Norwegian natural resource companies this year.
"It is unnatural and untenable for Norway and China to have frozen political relations," Stoere told the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv in an interview.
"Now we have to use our energy to look forward. The way forward is that we pick up the political dialogue again," Stoere said. "Today it is, if not at zero, then not very far away."
On the anniversary of the announcement of the award, Stoere said the lack of dialogue between Norway and the world's second biggest economy had hurt Norway's industrial sectors.
Salmon farmers, including the world's top firm Marine Harvest , have seen a decline in sales to China because of restrictions that slow down the processing of imports.
The Peace Prize award also put on hold non-EU member Norway's hopes of signing a free trade agreement with China that diplomats said could be a blueprint for other countries in Europe.
On the other hand, Chinese companies have finalised large deals with Norwegian firms in 2011, such as Sinochem's $3 billion purchase of an oilfield stake from Statoil and China National BlueStar's $2 billion purchase of Norwegian conglomerate Orkla's silicon operations.