Yesterday China gave out a list of 45 countries that would no longer require a visa for a 72-hour stopover in Beijing, the Financial Times reports.It’s a big deal, and EU visitors must have been happy to see that almost every country in Europe was included on the list, as well as the US, Russia, and Japan.
Actually, that’s country in Europe except one. Norway.
Norway’s exemption seems a little odd. Chinese authorities say that the list was based on the number of visitors the countries had sent between 2009-2011, but Norway should have been included based on that method. One official the FT spoke to said that certain countries that had not been included were left off as citizens or government are “of low-quality” or “badly behaved”.
The strange snub has something of a history, of course. Observers believe that China is still angry about the award of a Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese Activist Liu Xiaobo in 2010. Since that point in time multiple Norwegians — such as former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik — have mysteriously been denied visas to China, usually with no explanation at all.
Of course, Norway hasn’t taken all of this lying down. China has spent years cozying up to Denmark, Greenland and Iceland in the hope of gaining a permanent observer seat at the Arctic Council and thus getting a say in all the resources and shipping routes that will be up for grabs when the ice melts. Norway, who have a seat on the Council due to geography, have been vetoing.
However, many had been hoping that the arrival of Xi Jinping and a new Chinese government elite could have heralded a change in tactics. The Norway snub, coupled with the ongoing passport drama, suggests otherwise.