China published Friday its official reaction to Mr. Gahr Støre's advances. Mr. Gahr Støre was bluntly slapped. It was a predictible reaction.
Let's cut through the diplomatic language and go straight for the underlying reasons, the words that are not spoken. Because this is what the Chinese are really saying, and maybe it takes an author to translate it onto "un-diplomatic":
"In 2010 you, the collective political leadership of Norway, headed by Labour-politicians, saluted that another Labour politician, Mr. Jagland, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to a man who has said:Until Mr. Gahr Støre grants the +1 300 000 000 inhabitants of China the right to choose its own political system, not "a West Mark II" with a Chinese "traditional" dragon-twist, he will most likely meet a closed door, independently of how well he performs his diplomatic moves. The Chinese are talking principles here, post-colonial principles.
'Modernization means whole-sale westernization, choosing a human life is choosing Western way of life. Difference between Western and Chinese governing system is humane vs in-humane, there's no middle ground... Westernization is not a choice of a nation, but a choice for the human race'.
For this, we have jailed him, as he is no less than a foreign agent, not a spy, but an agitator for the introduction of the political system of the West in China. His organization is funded by the US Congress.
Mr. Gahr Støre has said that he respects China's 'traditions'. That is, he respects our right to shape China according to our 'traditions' when we supposedly should become like the West. We thank you, Mr. Gahr Støre for your love of pagodas, flute-playing and fireworks, but we will shape China as we please."
It is not a question of semantics. There is a difference between saying, on the one hand, that China has the sovereign right to choose its own political path, and on the other hand, the limited right to "choose" its own Western path. The West may refuse to realize this, and simply deny its own Eurocentric arrogance and hypocrisy, but in an un-diplomatic translation, this is exactly what this entire conflict is all about.
In China, strength is tied to respect. That it is little Norway, with a population of less than 5 million people, probably adds anger to what the Chinese consider an insult.
If Mr. Gahr Støre would resign as Norwegian foreign minister, the Chinese would most surely accept it with satisfaction. If Mr. Jagland were to step down as Nobel Committee Chairman, the Chinese authorities would rejoice. But as neither alternative is likely, I predict it will take a change of government in Norway to make the Chinese Communists even considering taking a first step towards letting bygones be bygones.
In China's opinion, the present Norwegian political establishment has arrogantly, even patronizingly used the Nobel Peace Prize to insult China. Thus, it has become a matter of principle. Of honour. Ask any Chinese.
* In September 2011 I travelled to Beijing for research on my forthcoming novel BRENT. This series expresses his non-novel related reflections on China and China's relationship to the West.