Norway and Finland talk Arctic with China

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg (2nd L) speaks to China’s President Xi Jinping (R) during a meeting at the Great Hall of People in Beijing on April 10, 2017. (Yohei Kanasashi/AFP/Getty Images)
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg is completing her 4-day visit to China and Chinese President Xi Jinping just left Finland. The Arctic was on the agenda both places.

While Finland for years has cooperated closely with the Asian superpower on a number of key issues, the Norwegian state visit to China marks the start of a new era in bilateral relations.

The high level meetings were the first of their kind following six years of political stalemate between the countries.

Norwegian PM Erna Solberg had meetings with key Chinese decision makers, among them both President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The visit also included meetings on foreign ministry level and trade and economic cooperation.

«Prime Minister Li expressed interest in an enhanced cooperation on the High North», Solberg highlighted in a comment published on the Norwegian government website.

«Norway and China have common interests in an enhanced cooperation within fields like shipping, environmental technology and the polar areas», she added.

Research and the Arctic Council, two priorities

During her visit, the Norwegian government leader paid a visit to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies and the Polar Research Institute of China, where she delivered a speech on «The challenging Arctic and Sino-Norwegian Collaboration».

«Now that our diplomatic and political relations have been normalized, I am confident that we will enjoy even closer cooperation. The fact that China is looking to the High North is positive. It gives us a shared platform to build further on,» Solberg said and promoted research and the Arctic Council as two priority areas for enhanced bilateral action in the Arctic.

The Arctic was on the agenda also in Solberg’s meeting with President Xi Jinping, the Norwegian government website informs.

Xi Jinping in Finland

That meeting came shortly after President Xi’s return to China after meetings in Europe and the USA.

On 4-5th April, the Chinese President and his wife paid a state visit to Finland. Together with an abundant delegation of officials and business representatives, Xi highlighted positive perspectives in Sino-Finnish relations. Also here, the Arctic was a key issue.

A joint 17 points declaration concluded by the two sides includes an ambition to intensify economic and technological cooperation in the area, in fields like Arctic marine industry, Arctic geology, marine and polar research, environmental protection technology, shipping and maritime safety, including vessel monitoring and reporting, ICT and tourism.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  How Arctic shipping could boost Canada’s trade relationship with Asia, Radio Canada International

Finland:  Finland courts US rivals Russia and China in bid for key role in Arctic power game, blog by Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle

Norway:  No Chinese resort in Svalbard, Norway after all, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian, Chinese officials hold talks on Arctic railway project, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Following Trump visit, Chinese president stops in Anchorage to meet with Alaska Governor, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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