Ambassador firm in his boycott

He tried to get countries with embassies in Norway to stay away from this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, because it honors one of his country’s leading dissidents. Ambassador Tang Guoqiang of China only partially succeeded, and the Peace Prize winner’s victory is Tang’s diplomatic defeat.

China's Ambassador to Norway, Tang Guoqiang. PHOTO: Embassy of China

Tang remains undeterred, however, in bashing the Norwegian Nobel Committee and the Norwegian government at the same time. Neither he nor his government in Beijing will accept the fact that the Norwegian government has no influence on decisions made by the Nobel committee.

After weeks of refusing to respond to reporters’ questions, though, Tang’s staff sent an e-mail to Views and News from Norway, where he claimed to comment on the questions. That didn’t mean the questions would be answered, however.

Tang refused to say what his country’s threatened “consequences” would be for those countries that didn’t go along with China’s attempted boycott of the Peace Prize ceremony. He repeated, though, that the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the prize to “a convicted criminal” who is serving a prison sentence “for breaching Chinese law.” Tang thus called the award “open support for criminal activities conducted in China,” adding that it “constitutes gross interference in China’s judicial sovereignty.

“The decision made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee is wrong,” Tang stated flatly.

He went on to say that “the position and practices of the Norwegian government in support of the Peace Prize this year pose an obstacle to continued friendship and cooperation between China and Norway.” Tang wrote that “given the current circumstances, it is difficult to maintain as good a relationship with Norway as in the past.”

“I think it would be understandable should relevant Chinese departments have second thoughts about advancing cooperation with Norway and find it hard to move forward the cooperation in many fields,” Tang wrote, claiming “the responsibility does not lie with China.”

‘Disconnected’
He’s not alone in his objections to this year’s Nobel Peace Prize award. Norwegian lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl has long criticized the Norwegian Nobel Committee for its choices, claiming they’re not always in line with the terms of benefactor Alfred Nobel’s will.

This year’s prize, Heffermehl claims, “has promoted controversy and ill will,” and he sees it as “disconnected” from Nobel’s intentions, which were to build international unity and promote disarmament through international law and institutions. “A prize true to Nobel’s anti-militarist idea would have done much more for human rights in the world and for all kinds of international problems with the environment, poverty and health,” Heffermehl says.

Heffermehl, who has written a book on the Peace Prize (external link) entitled “What Nobel Really Wanted,” claims this year’s prize “reflects the mindset of people still caught in Western paternalism and a Cold War mentality.

“You don’t talk to China, you talk with China,” Heffermehl believes, adding that “the offense to China was avoidable.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Join our Forum if you’d like to comment on this story.