China must expect Norwegian parliamentarians to take up human rights when they visit, said a message from parliamentary president, Olemic Thommessen.
Together with his Nordic-Baltic colleagues, Thommessen met China’s President, Xi Jinping, on Wednesday.
‘We addressed human rights in several contexts, including in the meeting with Xi. It was discussed on an overall level. From my side, it was important to emphasise that human rights are a vital issue for us, and one should expect it to arise when visiting parliament’,Thommessen told NTB news from Beijing.
Xi gave longer time than planned for the meeting with the delegation, said Thommessen.
He said the visit will lay the groundwork for parliamentary committees to visit China.
‘I think in this context it was a good visit. It’s important to have this dialogue with Chinese leadership and build trust. Norway is formally back in the play, but we have some lost years behind us,’ said Thommessen.
He said he didn’t notice anything of the former coldness in the meetings he attended.
The Nordic-Baltic delegation also had a meeting with the People’s Congress President, Zhang Dejiang, and Foreign Affairs Minister, Yang Jiechi, as well as with young entrepreneurs and business leaders in China.
In some of the meetings, concrete human rights issues, such as accessibility to the Internet, had been addressed, said Thommessen. But how China’s leadership treats dissidents and critics of the regime was not a topic, either with Xi, or any others.
‘This was not the framework for that kind of dialogue. From the Norwegian side, the government has a mechanism to address those issues, and we know that they have been addressed’, said Thommessen, adding that nobody from the delegation had addressed those issues.
China wants understanding
The parliamentary president stated that the Chinese had been keen to provide knowledge about Chinese conditions.
‘The Chinese are concerned that although they have strong economic growth, there are still big
differences from province to province,’ said Thommessen.
Beside a growing middle class, there are many who are still living in poverty, and there are areas with significant employment problems. These were among the topics when the delegation moved on from Beijing to Chengdu in the Sichuan province on Wednesday.
China’s role in international climate cooperation, as well as research cooperation in the Arctic region, were among the topics of the meetings.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today