Norway Woos China in Race for Arctic Oil Riches

Bloomberg’s Omar R. Valdimarsson and Mikael Holter report on Norwegian efforts to cultivate collaboration with China on Arctic energy exploration. Such partnership offers some hope of warming relations that have remained icy since a non-governmental Norwegian committee awarded the to imprisoned Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo in 2010.

The Nordic country is doing business with China’s Cnooc Ltd. (883) as it tries to find oil off Iceland’s shores. The Chinese company is also looking into exploring ’s eastern Barents Sea, an area where licenses will be awarded in 2016.

“China is one of the countries that like to participate in the north in cooperation with the countries that have sovereignty in the high north,” Norway Oil and Energy Minister Tord Lien said in an interview yesterday in Iceland. “International cooperation on developing energy resources and other resources is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.”

[…] Norway’s Conservative-led government, which won power last year, has made improved relations with China its top foreign-policy goal. The administration is doing what it can to avoid angering China further, including snubbing the — another Nobel Peace prize laureate — during his visit to Norway in May. [Source]

AFP’s Felicia Sonmez noted Norway’s predicament after Xi Jinping scolded foreign journalists at a Wednesday press conference:

In September, Sonmez noted, South China Morning Post’s Sarah Karacs reported a Chinese ban singling out harmlessly contaminated Norwegian salmon:

Norwegian salmon has been the “fulcrum” of Chinese punitive measures since 2010, according to [Bjornar Sverdrup-Thygeson of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs], who believes the latest move may have been motivated by the leak of a document from secret bilateral negotiations between China and the former Norwegian administration.

The document leaked by business magazine Dagens Naerringsliv on September 2 advised former prime minister Jens Stoltenberg to issue a formal apology and promise no future Chinese dissidents earn the prize – suggestions he dismissed on the grounds that the Nobel committee is an entity separate from the government.

[…] “Our hands are tied,” the director of the Centre for International and Strategic Analysis, Helge Luras, said. “For Norwegian politicians it would be suicide to come up with an apology – many Norwegians still believe [Liu] fights a just cause,” he added. [Source]