Chinese FM says COVID-19 may not have started in China, warns Norway on Nobel Peace Prize

Foreign Affairs

The Chinese Foreign Minister is on a five-nation tour of Europe. Today he warned Norway of the consequences of a Nobel Peace Prize choice that does not please Beijing.

Wang Yi and Ine Eriksen Søreide

The Chinese and Norwegian foreign ministers bump elbows in Oslo. Source: Xinhua.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wáng Yì 王毅 is in Norway, the third stop on a five-nation tour “intended to boost Chinese-European cooperation.”

He’s already met with his Italian and Dutch counterparts. France and Germany are next. But yesterday in Oslo he met Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and gave a press briefing with her.

  • They said their talks “focused on multilateralism, as Norway prepared to take up a rotational seat on the United Nations Security Council, of which China is a permanent member,” according to the South China Morning Post.
  • “Both officials stressed that this was the first visit to Norway by a Chinese foreign minister in 15 years,” which the SCMP calls “a subtle reference to the previously frozen diplomatic relationship between 2010 and 2016, after the Oslo-based Nobel Peace Prize committee awarded the prize to Chinese dissident Liú Xiǎobō 刘晓波.”

Wang made veiled warnings of a similar freeze, when asked by a reporter how China would react if the Hong Kong protesters were to receive the prize:  

  • “I would only say one thing: In the past, today, and in future, China will firmly reject any attempt by anyone to use the Nobel Peace Prize to interfere in China’s internal affairs… We don’t want to see anyone politicize the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Wang also took time to revive the COVID-19 story that the Chinese government occasionally brings out:

  • “Much information and research indicated that this disease could be tracked in different places, many of which were discovered earlier than the incidents in China… Where did the virus first start and how it started…should be left to scientists and medical experts… It should not be politicized or stigmatized,” Wang told reporters.