After the Norwegian government snubbed the Dalai Lama during his visit to Oslo to avoid upsetting China, Norway’s richest man, Stein Erik Hagen, jumped in on the controversy wagon when he called for China to get the Nobel Peace Prize.
Hagen, who made his 5.3 billion USD fortune through his enterprises Rimi, Orkla and Mernia, told Norway’s VG newspaper that China’s success in lifting hundred of millions of people out of poverty made the country a worthy candidate.
“China is constantly evolving and is about to become the world’s economic superpower,” he said in the report, as relayed by The Local.
“They are creating a country that is bringing hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. It is an achievement that qualifies for the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Government officials in Norway decided that they would not meet with the Dalai Lama, a 1989 Nobel Peace laureate, when he arrived on Wednesday for a three-day visit to celebrate the 25th anniversary of winning the prize.
The government has made it a priority to mend ties with China that unraveled when the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, according to Asian Correspondent.
“It is more important to have a good relationship with the giant China than to give politically correct support for Tibet,” Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende was quoted as saying. “By getting a better relationship with China, we can better help Tibet.”
NRK said that the Chinese government is now looking for Norway to guarantee that it will never congratulate a dissident Chinese prize winner. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told the same outlet that ‘there was no guarantee’ this would happen, rhetoric that’s left people speculating that such an agreement was already made behind closed doors.