Large Human Rights Delegation Heads For China

Raymond Johansen of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry/PHOTO: SCANPIX

Norway’s deputy foreign minister is leading one of the largest delegations ever to visit China for discussions on human rights. He’ll visit Tibet this weekend as well, but Chinese officials won’t let any Norwegian journalists accompany him.

Oslo, Norway: “I’m very sorry about that,” Raymond Johansen of the Foreign Ministry told newspaper Aftenposten. Johansen was only allowed to visit Tibet himself if he agreed to travel without a Norwegian press corps.

He did so, because he feels it’s important to get an impression of the situation in Tibet that he didn’t want to cancel the trip. Johansen said he also felt it was important to demonstrate to the Chinese officials that Norway remains highly interested in Tibet.

He said he tried several times to get the Chinese to change their minds and allow journalists to accompany him, but was turned down. Johansen never was given a reason as to why reporters aren’t being allowed with him into Tibet.

Around 40 Norwegian politicians, civil servants and experts on China are in the delegation that will be discussing human rights in Beijing next week. The annual “round-table” discussion will take place October 30-31.

Also included in the delegation are representatives from Norway’s Supreme Court, the national legal and medical associations, the trade union federation LO, the employers’ group NHO and Amnesty International.

Johansen told Aftenposten that he thinks human rights are moving in the right direction in China, even though the country still has a long way to go. The rights of workers, prisoners and minorities are high on the agenda.

Norway has had formal discussions on human rights in China since 1997. China has similar discussions with the EU twice a year as well.

Aftenposten (Norwegian newspaper)