It’s been two years since Liu Xiaobo‘s Nobel Peace Prize win sparked off a huge diplomatic catfight between China and Norway. And the People’s Republic is still livid over a decision that had nothing to do with the Norwegian government. Kjell Magne Bondevik, who served as Norway’s prime minister from 2002 to 2005 (way before the Liu Xiaobo-Nobel fiasco), has just been denied a visa to China. The ordained pastor was to have been a moderator at a meeting of the World Council of Churches hosted in Nanjing this week.
Via Views and News from Norway:
“They’ll certainly manage to hold the meeting without me, but I would have gladly been there,” Bondevik told newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday. The former Norwegian premier from the Christian Democrats party said he can only believe that the visa denial is linked to China’s anger over the decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo two years ago.
Bondevik told Aftenposten that he, like so many other Norwegians who have been denied visas to China since the award was announced in October 2010, was not given any reason for the visa denial. He said he was merely told that staff at the Chinese Embassy in Oslo were not given the necessary authorization from authorities in Beijing to issue him a visa.
“So the ambassador in Oslo can’t be blamed for this,” Bondevik told Aftenposten. “As I see it, it’s part of a strategy by the authorities. I had nothing to do with the awarding of the Peace Prize, but they have perhaps read that I was positive about it.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond directly to a question on Bondevik from the Associated Press. In a faxed statement, the ministry said that “Chinese are rejected for visas every day, that visa policies vary by country and that this case should not be ‘over interpreted’.”