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Chinese Still Angry With Norway About Nobel Prize

Kjell Magne Bondevik addresses the 2005 World Summit during the 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, September 16, 2005.
BEIJING - China has refused to issue a visa to former Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and is indicating it still blames Norway for the Nobel committee awarding the peace prize to jailed Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo in 2010.

When asked about China's refusal of a visa to the former Norwegian leader, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin says granting and refusing visas is a daily occurrence.

He says Chinese diplomatic missions issue visas to foreign leaders upon invitation, as authorized by what he describes as “competent authorities at home.” He adds that Chinese citizens are often rejected for visas in other countries. He urges the outside world not to read too much into these decisions.

One of Norway's largest newspapers, Aftenposten, reported Tuesday that China had denied a visa to former prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, who was supposed to have attended a seminar in the Chinese Nanjing this week.

He told the paper he believes the visa denial is linked to China's anger about the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo. Bondevik had visited China in 2002, when he was Norway's prime minister.

When asked about it, the Chinese spokesman does not dispute the linkage and he acknowledges that China-Norway relations are still not good.

He blames the difficulties in China-Norway relations on Oslo and hints that the Norwegian government should, in his words, “undo what it has done,” although he gave no specifics.

The Nobel Committee, which is non-governmental, awarded Liu Xiaobo the peace prize in 2010 for what it says was his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Liu is an activist writer who helped organized Charter 08, a manifesto calling for freedom of speech and political reform in China. In 2009, he was sentenced to 11 years in jail for subversion.

Officials in Beijing have said Liu broke Chinese law, and that awarding a him with a Nobel prize is an insult to China.

Liu and his family members were not able to attend the ceremony in Oslo. His absence was marked with the image of an empty chair.

Meanwhile, Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi will be in Oslo Saturday to formally deliver the speech she was supposed to give when she was awarded the Nobel peace prize, more than two decades ago. At the time, she did not appear in person to accept the prize because she was under house arrest in Rangoon.