Wang, Eide hold talks as Europe’s China policy faces uncertainties

Discussion on Mideast shows shared approach: experts

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday met with his Norwegian counterpart Espen Barth Eide in Beijing, where the two sides exchanged views on bilateral cooperation and the crises in the Middle East. The meeting reflects China’s growing attention to small-sized European countries and willingness to help them enlarge their voice on the global stage, experts said.

Although Norway is a member of NATO, its stances on various hot-button issues are essentially different from those of the US, and it refuses to be held hostage by the latter, observers noted. For many European countries like Norway, there is a wide consensus with China on conflict resolution and a growing recognition of China’s ability to handle international crises, observers said.

Eide is the first European foreign minister to visit China in 2024, which demonstrates the importance Norway attaches to China and signifies continuous progress in bilateral relations, Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said during the meeting.

Although the two countries have different national conditions and systems, China and Norway should work together to inject more certainty, stability and positive energy into the world, Wang said, while expressing appreciation to the Norwegian government for its objective, rational and friendly attitude toward China’s development and adherence to the one-China principle.

In the next stage, both sides need to take care of each other’s core interests and major concerns, uphold the right approach to getting along with each other, deepen practical cooperation and strengthen multilateral coordination, the Chinese foreign minister noted.

In the eyes of Chinese experts, relations between China and Norway have been stable and making progress in recent years, despite setbacks and turbulence in previous years.

Cui Hongjian, a professor with the Academy of Regional and Global Governance with Beijing Foreign Studies University, said that Norway has a unique role in Europe because of its important geographic location and abundant strategic resources, as well as its active engagement in international affairs. Its close ties with China will set an example for the rest of Europe to guide China-Europe relations onto a healthier path, at a time when the region’s China policy faces more uncertainties.

Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of European Studies, believes that the Norwegian foreign minister’s visit could pave the way for a possible China trip by the country’s prime minister in the near future.

During the Monday talks, the two sides had extensive discussions on the situation in the Middle East, with both agreeing that it is necessary to immediately achieve a cease-fire in Gaza, while allowing for more humanitarian assistance to enter the region. All parties need to work together to prevent the conflict from spreading and call for the immediate release of all detained individuals.

Although a member of NATO, Norway is still seeking to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in cooperation with China, according to experts, who said it reflects that the country’s stance on the issue differ from that of the US, while in contrast, Norway’s hope, like many others in Europe, for a peaceful environment conducive to their economic interests, echoes more with China’s approach.

“What’s more, expectations have been growing for China to play a more important part in addressing global security concerns, given the international community’s recognition of China’s willingness and capability in handling these affairs,” Cui said.

From another perspective, Norway, as a small European country, often gets overshadowed by the voices of larger European countries and the US. But in talks with China, its voice is well heard and respected, Zhao told the Global Times. “It is pinning high hopes on China to help enhance their voice, and in turn, it sends a positive signal to other small and medium-sized countries in Europe to build mutual trust with Beijing,” the expert said.

In talking with the Chinese side, Eide said Norway is committed to supporting free trade, open cooperation and upholding WTO rules. Norway appreciates China’s transformation of its growth model and is willing to work with China to tackle climate change and other global challenges.

Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, also met with Eide in Beijing on Monday, during which he said China is willing to work with Norway to deepen cooperation in areas such as economy and trade, green development, maritime affairs and winter sports.

Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang on Tuesday talked with the Norwegian foreign minister, noting that China is firmly committed to expanding high-level opening-up and is willing to share vast market opportunities with Norway.

China hopes Norway will continue to provide an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises, Ding said.

(Global Times)

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