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Crown Prince heads for China

Crown Prince Haakon will visit China next week, but in an unofficial capacity. The visit nonetheless is significant given the chilly diplomatic relations between Norway and China since the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded last year’s Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident.

Crown Prince Haakon attending a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos earlier this year. PHOTO: World Economic Forum

China has refused to meet any top Norwegian government officials since being embarrassed and angered by the Nobel Committee’s decision to award its Peace Prize to imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo. One of the last government ministers to visit China was Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, who faced seeing long-planned meetings cancelled when she visited China last fall after the prize was announced.

Oil & Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe is scheduled to travel to Beijing later this month, but his visit is tied to Norway’s participation in a worldwide ministerial meeting of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. It would be difficult for China to refuse entry to Moe since Norway is a member of the forum. No official meetings are planned with Chinese officials.

Now Crown Prince Haakon will head for Dalian from September 12-16, to take part in the Young Global Leaders Annual Summit. The event is under the auspices of the World Economic Forum, in which the crown prince has been active for several years.

A palace spokesman told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the crown prince is traveling as a private person and not in an official capacity to represent Norway. The Forum of Young Global leaders is billed as a “multistakeholder community of more than 700 exceptional young leaders who share a commitment to shaping the global future.” Its members come from around the world and represent business, government, civil society, arts and culture, academia, social organizations and the media.

The Forum honoured 190 young leaders from 65 countries earlier this year for their “outstanding leadership, professional accomplishments and commitment to society,” according to the World Economic Forum. They will convene at the annual summit in Dalian.

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