China says Nobel chairman`s demotion won`t warm Norway ties

 The demotion of the Nobel Peace Prize committee`s chairman will not thaw Sino-Norway ties, Beijing said Wednesday amid a diplomatic deep freeze imposed by China after a prominent dissident was given the 2010 award.

AFP| Updated: Mar 04, 2015, 16:22 PM IST

Beijing: The demotion of the Nobel Peace Prize committee`s chairman will not thaw Sino-Norway ties, Beijing said Wednesday amid a diplomatic deep freeze imposed by China after a prominent dissident was given the 2010 award.

Tuesday`s removal of Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland from his post atop the high-profile panel spurred speculation of a potential rapprochement between Oslo and Beijing after more than four years of frosty ties.

Jagland, who will remain a committee member, was at the helm of the organisation when it awarded the 2010 peace prize to jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo, a move that enraged Beijing.

China later banned whole salmon imports from Norway, supposedly on safety grounds, and Norwegian citizens have been excluded from a 72-hour transit visa scheme.

Oslo`s ambassador -- in post since 2007 -- has reportedly been unable to return home for fear that if he leaves, his successor will not be granted a visa.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Beijing`s position on the awarding of the prize and China-Norway relations is "subject to no change".

"Our position on developing ties with Norway is clear, which is also I believe very clear to the Norwegian side," she told reporters at a regular briefing, without elaborating.

Hua declined to say whether Jagland`s departure had ever been a subject of discussion between Oslo and Beijing.

The Nobel committee is independent of the government, although its members are chosen by the Norwegian parliament.

Oslo`s attempts to normalise political ties with the world`s second largest economy have proved fruitless as, according to analysts, Beijing wants to set an example to deter other countries.

In September Norwegian media reported that in 2013 then-prime minister Jens Stoltenberg had considered -- but ultimately decided against -- secretly apologising to Beijing for Liu`s Nobel award.

China maintains that it is up to Norway to make a gesture to normalise ties.