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Historisk arkiv

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

Speech at Chinese Academy for Social Sciences

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Bondevik II

Utgiver: Statsministerens kontor

Beijing, 21 January 2002

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik

Speech at The Chinese Academy for Social Sciences

Beijing, 21 January 2002

Perspectives on Norwegian-Chinese Relations.

President of the CASS Mr. Li Tieying, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I first visited China in 1980. The first steps had been taken down the road of modernisation and opening up.

This year, I have the privilege to visit your great nation as Norway’s prime minister.

I see a very different country.

It is an honour to visit this highly respected institution of academic excellence and importance in China. It is an honour to present some perspectives on Norwegian-Chinese relations, relations that are of increasing importance to my country.

President Jiang Zemin has said that a country that wants to develop and prosper must learn from the experience of other countries.

Both Norway and China can learn much from each other. According to ancient Chinese wisdom it takes time to develop a well-rounded, harmonious personality. Balanced development is all-important.

This also applies to relations between individuals, institutions and nations.

My Government’s cooperation with China includes a political dialogue alongside increased trade and economic cooperation and closer cooperation in the cultural field.

Norway and the People’s Republic of China have longstanding and good relations. My visit to China reflects the importance of these relations. And it emphasises the mutual benefit we can derive from them.

Norwegians have been proud of their ability to navigate the seas – over 1000 years ago, during the Viking era, we saw the sea as a highway.

Yet, the Vikings did not seem to get as far as China. The first Norwegian sailors to call at Chinese ports came in the 16 th> and 17 th> centuries.

It may still have been the Viking spirit that moved a young Norwegian customs officer in Ningbo 110 years ago to row a sampan across the mine-infested Yangtze river. The young Johan Wilhelm Normann Munthe had volunteered to warn a steamer from Shanghai about the mines.

He succeeded, his bravery made an impression, and Munthe later became a general under Yuan Shi-kai. He was eventually buried here in Beijing with full official honours.

Munthe was colourful. But so were many others.

During the time of the empire of the 19 th> century and the republic of the 20 th>, up the large rivers came Norwegian sailors, tradesmen and missionaries. A surprising number of my countrymen held leading positions in the civil service of that day.

A hundred years ago, many young intellectuals in China looked to Europe for new ideas and inspiration. The playwright Henrik Ibsen was viewed also by the Chinese as a pioneer of modern drama. His works were translated and performed here very early.

This well-established cooperation with China was the historic backdrop when Norway formally recognised the People’s Republic as early as January 1950 – one of the very first Western countries to do so.

We supported the People’s Republic as the legitimate representative of China in the United Nations. That was an expression of solidarity with the people of China.

Today, the relations between Norway and China are in a constructive and dynamic phase. The past ten years have seen the friendship evolve even stronger. We witness more frequent visits on various levels.

We enjoy a range of contacts in the academic sphere and in a number of other sectors of civil society. China is in the process of becoming the most popular long-distance tourist destination for Norwegians. There is a growing interest on the part of the Chinese in visiting Norway and Northern Europe.

I am honoured to touch upon some key areas of cooperation between our two countries.

In our knowledge-based economy, the importance of education is key. Making sure that everyone has an opportunity to get an education is as vital as making sure the education they receive is relevant for tomorrow. Education is a promising area in Norwegian-Chinese cooperation.

That collaboration ranges from student and teacher exchange programmes and technological cooperation to research cooperation.

Arctic and polar research is a new addition to the many areas of common interest and research. The polar field has long traditions in Norway. I am happy to note the current Chinese interest in such activities. You contribute to expanding our own knowledge. I welcome the establishment of a Chinese polar research base on Spitsbergen, the Norwegian archipelago in the arctic High North.

Arctic research is closely related to the environment, a field where China faces unparallelled challenges by virtue of her size and her high level of growth.

I will congratulate China for managing to reduce total CO2 and methane emissions between 1996 and 2000. Reducing emissions at a time of high growth is an impressive contribution to our efforts to halt climate change. It is vital to China and to the world at large that your country continues to demonstrate determination and the capacity for sustained action.

In 1998, Norway and China entered into a so-called Activities Implemented Jointly agreement under the Climate Convention. This project was the first of its kind in China. It aims at improving energy efficiency in a coal-fuelled power plant in Hunan province.

Many other joint environmental projects have been carried out. We monitor and manage systems for air and water control in cities and river basins. Our largest ongoing effort is a programme to combat acid rain in China, involving several Norwegian and Chinese research institutes. We have first-hand experience because of our exposure to air pollutants from sources abroad. Only after many years of intensive efforts were we able bring this problem under control. Now, we will share our research efforts with you.

I am happy that my Minister of the Environment accompanies me on my visit to China. That testifies to our commitment. I welcome the close collaboration between our two countries in the environmental area.

The fisheries sector plays a central part in our relations. Our longstanding resource management cooperation includes a research vessel based in Qingdao. We are both major fisheries nations, China being the largest producer in the world and Norway being among the largest exporters of fish. These days, we are concerned about the state of the marine environment. We have a lot to share, and we have more to learn through continued and expanded cooperation.

We are finding new customers for Norwegian salmon and other fish products, as your excellent cuisine has many new and old followers in my country.

And we note a great interest by the Chinese aquaculture industry in our new, environmentally friendly technology and equipment.

This is encouraging.

Without a past, we have no future.

Cooperation on preserving the cultural heritage is an area where Norway is privileged to join hands with China, a country with an immensely rich culture. I had the opportunity to witness one result of our cooperation in this field on Saturday night, walking the streets of the old quarter of Xian.

I was happy to see that many of the old buildings had been restored as part of a joint Norwegian-Chinese effort, and were being used by communities of young artists.

Throughout the centuries, Chinese culture has been a source of inspiration to all who encounter it. An increasing number of our artists are seeking creative encounters with colleagues in China. There is an ongoing dialogue on literature between our writers and publishers. Numerous exchanges in theatre and music have enriched both our countries. The composer Edvard Grieg, in addition to Henrik Ibsen, is well known in China.

Our two countries share a common appreciation of the value of cultural diversity, with the wealth of expression this entails. We both recognise the fertile ground this diversity provides for creative new voices, tones, colours, visual expression and words that can enrich the human condition.

Whereas China has launched a “Go West” campaign, I am happy to note that Norwegian business and industry are eager to “Go East.”

On this visit I am accompanied by more than 100 prominent Norwegian businessmen and -women. My Minister of Industry and Trade has joined me. I have this morning come from the opening of “Norway Industry Day” where Norwegian and Chinese business leaders explore areas of contact.

Norway is well known to China as a shipping nation.

Norwegian shipping interests at present control the third largest fleet in the world. Twenty-five new ships and oilrigs, to the tune of RMB 10 billion, are currently in production in China. When I go to Shanghai tomorrow, I will also emphasise our maritime cooperation.

Information and communications technology is a defining feature of globalisation.

China is well on the way to becoming one of the largest and most demanding ICT arenas in the world. Norway has special technology and expertise to share. We hope to engage in further mutual undertakings with China.

With the valuable support of your Ministry of Information Industry, we look forward to presenting concrete plans for increased interaction in this high-technology field.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For more than seven years Norway and China have been engaged in a structured dialogue on human rights and the rule of law.

We, too, are striving to improve the implementation of our human rights commitments. My country is now in the second year of implementing our National Plan of Action for Human Rights.

We find it most useful to exchange our views and experiences.

We have great respect for the challenges China is facing in implementing its human rights commitments.

The modernisation and reform process in China has historic dimensions. It poses historic challenges. This goes for the entire area of human rights. China has made great strides, particularly in safeguarding social and economic rights. However, the abolition of the “iron rice bowl” presents challenges on a new level.

Civil, political and cultural rights are increasingly a part of this modernisation agenda – as they should be.

We are evaluating the experiences gained in the dialogue in which the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has been a frequent participant. The questions in not whether, but how we best can continue this key cooperation in order to achieve common goals. Mutual respect and the growing knowledge and understanding have led to mutual confidence. We can address issues in an open and frank and ever more practical manner.

I hope Norway will remain a relevant partner in our joint human rights endeavours.

Our agenda will continue to encompass the rule of law and issues as the use of the death penalty and administrative detention, freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, the situation of ethnic minorities, freedom of association, equal opportunities and labour rights.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We look forward to engaging in closer cooperation in all these fields.

On labour relations and social standards we have had fruitful exchanges between Norwegian and Chinese organisations.

With the developments in Chinese society, membership of the World Trade Organisation and the continued modernisation of business and the economy, a new question has arisen: How can business best relate not just to its shareholders, but to company staff and their families, to their customers and suppliers, to the local community, regional authorities, to the environment?

The issue of corporate social responsibility is now on our agenda.

The social and health sectors are crucial to any society – and in our cooperation. The scope is wide. It reaches from cooperation between the Norwegian and the Chinese Red Cross Societies, to institutional contacts and exchanges between our respective health authorities.

I am particularly encouraged by the degree Norwegian non-governmental institutions are being welcomed by local communities and administrations in China. This can be a valuable input to improve social services and to develop a vigorous Chinese civil society.

The modernisation of Chinese society is unprecedented in magnitude. It is unprecedented in its scope. Hundreds of millions of people have a direct stake in the successful outcome of these efforts. In carrying out such a process of transformation, you have to take stock of how it is affecting people’s daily lives. The Norwegian Institute for Applied International Studies FAFO has contributed to such knowledge in cooperation with the National Research Centre for Science and Technology for Development, in Beijing .

Studies on migratory patterns and the challenges of modernisation in the western parts of China will hopefully be of use in implementing the “Go West” campaign.

Your aim is to improve your people’s standard of living. Yet, at the same time, you will have to respect your many-faceted societies with their different cultural, religious and other traditions. This is indeed a daunting task.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Norway is a young nation state with an old history. Norway was for four hundred years ruled by Denmark and then became part of a union with Sweden until 1905.

Independence was a powerful and central theme of our nationhood even before we were occupied by Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1945.

In a climate that daily tests endurance, ingenuity and our dependence on the world around us, my country has fostered a combination of self-reliance and solidarity.

Norway is a small and vulnerable country. We Norwegians are acutely aware of our reliance on the world beyond our shores. The road to our development as an economy and as a nation was never separated from development elsewhere.

The United Nations is a cornerstone of our foreign policy. Our aim is close cooperation between nations based on the rule of law and equality.

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo last month, Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke of three key priorities for the future: “Eradicating poverty, preventing conflict, and promoting democracy.” He continued, “Only in a world that is rid of poverty can men and women make the most of their abilities. Only where individual rights are respected can differences be channelled politically and resolved peacefully. Only in a democratic environment, based on respect for diversity and dialogue, can individual self-expression and self-government be secured, and freedom of association be upheld.” Those were the powerful words of Secretary-General Annan.

There are many conflicts ongoing around the world. There are even more potential conflicts. The terrorist threat to world security and to peaceful cooperation between nations has taken on a new face. It demands renewed efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September were not only directed at innocent people.

They were directed at the very values on which the United Nations is based.

We stand united in our condemnation of these attacks. We call for international cooperation to prevent and eradicate terrorism and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

We will fight terrorism with all appropriate means: political, diplomatic, legal, financial and military.

I pledge my country’s full support to the broad global coalition against terrorism. We are part of the North Atlantic alliance. We fully support the United States in its efforts to defend itself against international terrorism. We are implementing the provisions of Security Council resolution 1373 by taking concrete steps to cut off the financial resources of terrorist networks. The UN must play a central part in the international fight against terrorism.

We appreciate the close cooperation with China in the UN on this vital issue.

The UN is a focal point for rallying all nations in an effort to combat and eliminate terrorism. The UN Charter, together with resolutions in the Security Council, forms the guiding principles of our effort. We must combine our determination to fight terrorism with vigilance. In that way we can protect and promote human rights in the process.

The rule of law is a central theme in all international interaction. It forms the basis of the modern state. It would be of great benefit to the current fight against terrorism if there had been an effective International Criminal Court. In such a court those responsible for these inhuman crimes could be prosecuted. That court should not, of course, take on the tasks of national legal institutions. But it could and should become an important supplement.

It is not possible to address inequality in the world without discussing it on the individual level. The curse of racism and intolerance and the dangers and consequences of marginalised groups in society can hardly be overestimated. The World Conference in Durban confirmed the responsibility of each state to combat racism. I am pleased to note the reference made to the importance of safeguarding the rights of indigenous peoples and national minorities. Yet, the test lies, as always, in the implementation.

Ever since the first UN missions in Africa, Norway has been a partner in the peacekeeping and peace-building efforts of the United Nations. Since 1948, my country has taken part in 30 peacekeeping operations. More than 60,000 Norwegians have served under UN command.

The task of peacekeeping is an important as well as a difficult one, and we welcome the increasing engagement of China in peacekeeping efforts.

Norway is currently a member of the Security Council. China holds the only permanent Asian seat. We seek to act in accordance with the responsibility entrusted to the Security Council under the Charter. We highly value our cooperation with China in the Council.

In six weeks’ time, Norway will hold the presidency of the Council. During our month in office, the stabilisation and post-war reconstruction of Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism will continue to be on the agenda. The importance of these issues to my country is highlighted by the fact that Norway has taken on the task of chairing the multinational Afghanistan Support Group.

The role of the President of the Security Council is primarily that of a facilitator. We will do what we can to ensure that sound decisions are reached.

China is living up to her United Nations responsibility. Your country has a growing influence in the region and beyond – not least due to your impressive economic growth. The cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Chinese proposal to create a free-trade area between China and the ASEAN demonstrate the role China plays also regionally. It is key to encourage such regional cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

The APEC Summit in Shanghai last autumn, which was so well organised by China, highlighted the importance of Asian-Pacific regional cooperation. I will pursue this regional perspective when I proceed to Seoul later this week.

Ladies and gentlemen,

President Jiang Zemin emphasises that economic globalisation has brought development opportunities, yet also serious challenges and risks.

I agree. Globalisation is a trend caused by economic, scientific and technological developments. The only way to counter the negative aspects of today’s world is to address them. The gap between the North and the South, between rich and poor, within countries as well as between countries, is growing. An important part of my country’s response is to increase overseas development aid to one per cent of our gross domestic product, up from 0.9 per cent at present.

I also agree with President Jiang when he states that a globalised economy calls for global cooperation. In this spirit, I warmly welcome the membership of China in the World Trade Organisation.

Your membership is a great stride towards making this body truly representative. Your membership as of December was indeed one of the key international events last year.

As a founding member of the WTO, Norway participated in drawing up the basic principles of the organisation. The Norwegian economy is an open one. Important sectors of Norwegian business and industry are export-oriented. This has emphasised our recognition of predictable rules for trade.

Norway and China support the establishment of the New Round. We agree that weight must be put on the development dimension.

Ladies and gentlemen,

China’s economy grows. And Norway is being increasingly affected by China’s development. Our aim is to expand our broad and active cooperation with China.

We propose more research and institutional cooperation, as well as efforts to increase both countries’ knowledge of the other’s language, culture and society. Human rights and environmental cooperation will continue to occupy a central place.

I trust you will agree that there is a wide scope for further contact and closer relations between Norway and China.

Our differences can indeed become our strengths as we share our experience and our expertise, as we widen our understanding of the world we live in. We are ready and we are willing to proceed along this path – in our bilateral relations and in our contribution towards peace, security and development in all parts of the world.

China is becoming an Olympic nation. My country has hosted the winter Olympics twice. We are in little doubt as to the magnitude of this undertaking. Your Games can have a tremendous mobilising and motivating force. I wish you every success in achieving modern Olympic ideals: friendly, open, green and above all fair Games!

Thank you for your attention.

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