Neither Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg nor members of his government or other top Norwegian politicians have been welcome in China for the past two years, but now at least one member of Stoltenberg’s own family has secured a visa.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Monday that Axel Stoltenberg, the 23-year-old son of the Norwegian prime minister and his wife, diplomat Ingrid Schulerud, arrived in Shanghai over the weekend to start language studies at Jiao Tong University.
Neither the younger nor elder Stoltenberg wanted to comment on the course of study in China, but DN reported that Axel Stoltenberg will study Chinese after recently completing a bachelor’s degree in social economics at the University of Oslo.
That’s the same major his father had, but now the younger Stoltenberg has done something his father can’t: Travel to China. Not a single top Norwegian politician has made an official visit to China following the Chinese government’s fury over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to one of their dissidents in 2010. Even though the Norwegian government has nothing to do with decisions made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the Chinese authorities have continued to hold the government responsible for the Nobel Prize that embarrassed and offended them.
While other Norwegians, from professors to former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, have also been denied visas to China, the current prime minister’s son was granted a visa to study in Shanghai. An expert on Chinese relations at the large Norwegian classification society Det Norske Veritas (DNV), however, said he didn’t see the move as any sign of better relations between China and Norway.
“It would actually have been surprising if he (Axel Stoltenberg) hadn’t received a visa,” Henning Kristoffersen of DNV told DN. “That would have been an escalation (of tensions between Norway and China).”
Kristoffersen called the tensions “a conflict at the highest levels” that seems deadlocked. “If I had to point out any developments, I’d say that for business and other players, it’s getting worse the longer this goes on,” he said.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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