Shipowners and executives from all over the world are converging on Oslo and the northeastern suburb of Lillestrøm this week for the annual Nor-Shipping conference and exhibition. Absent once again, though, will be representatives from one of the world’s largest shipping firms, the China Ocean Shipping Co (COSCO).
China’s largest state-owned shipping company has boycotted Nor-Shipping since the Chinese government got angry over the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s awarding of the Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. This year a total of 991 shipping and offshore companies from 45 countries will be represented at Nor-Shipping, but not COSCO.
“The political relations between Norway and China haven’t changed,” conference director Vidar Pedersen told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), referring to the diplomatic freeze between Norway and China since 2010. “Employees of state-owned companies (like COSCO) aren’t allowed to travel to Norway in connection with Nor-Shipping.”
COSCO’s absence is unfortunate for the industry, since the Chinese are the world’s largest users of maritime transport. Around 15 privately owned Chinese companies are attending, though. The conference runs through the weekend.