President of the Storting Olemic Thommessen is on an official visit to China along with his counterparts in the Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8).
In the first three days of the visit, the parliamentary presidents have had meetings with the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Zhang Dejiang (the Chinese counterpart of the parliamentary presidents); Fu Ting, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the congress; and Yang Jiechi, who, as State Councillor in charge of foreign affairs, ranks above the Foreign Minister in China.
Meeting President Xi
In addition, the seven parliamentary presidents met on Wednesday, 10 January, with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
President Xi drew attention to the importance of cooperation between parliaments in expanding understanding and knowledge of different regions of the world, and said such cooperation helps build a foundation for development.
Mr Thommessen used the opportunity of meeting with the Chinese president to discuss the importance of respecting international playing rules and of joint efforts to address environmental challenges. Mr Thommessen also mentioned a desire for closer Norwegian-Chinese cooperation on winter sports ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Development, poverty and cooperation
In their meetings with the Nordic and Baltic parliamentary presidents, Chinese political leaders have emphasised economic development in China, including efforts to combat poverty and develop infrastructure along the Silk Road to facilitate trade and international cooperation.
For his part Mr Thommessen has stressed the importance of China’s constructive international role, not least on issues relating to the green economy and climate. He has also pointed out the need to comply with international ground rules and international law.
“In the meetings I’ve also explained the basic tenets of Norwegian parliamentary democracy,” says Mr. Thommessen. “I pointed out, for example, that human rights are incorporated into the Norwegian constitution.”
After the meeting with President Xi Jinping the delegation is travelling to the Chengdu area of Sichuan Province, where meetings are to include leaders from a number of western Chinese provinces.
The official visit to China – from 7 to 11 January – is being coordinated by the president of the Finnish parliament, Maria Lohela.