"Norway has had no political contact with China since 2010. This has been challenging for us in many international contexts and in many individual cases," Erna Solberg admitted to Norwegian national broadcaster NRK, citing "painstaking diplomatic confidence-building work on many levels."
According to Solberg, the cool in the bilateral relationship was especially taxing for Norwegian industry, which has been suffering due to the lack of political connections.
Today, Norway seeks to benefit from opportunities that stem from cooperation with China, which is the world's second largest economy and a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende admitted to plans to resume negotiations on a free trade agreement, as well as many technical issues, such as climate change and Arctic cooperation.
Knut Sunde, a branch director at the Federation of Norwegian Industries (NI) wrote in an e-mail to NRK that Norwegian exports to China reached 23 billion NOK ($2.7bln) last year. However, he admitted that it by no means equals the growth which other European economies have experienced. Norway's main exports to China were silicon, metals and maritime equipment.
While the Norwegian political establishment cheered the reconciliation with the country's major eastern trade partner, many pundits were critical of the decision to mend fences, arguing that the price was too high.
According to Marc Lanteigne, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), Norway acknowledged that the relationship was damaged and pledged to prevent such things from ever happening again.
"It is simply humiliating," Stein Ringen, a professor of political science at Oxford University and author of a critically acclaimed book on Chinese politics, told Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. "We see how Norway had to stoop to Chinese demands. The gain, however, is rather symbolic," Ringen stated.
"I am very saddened by Norway's inability to defend the principles of freedom of expression and human rights in the face of a superpower like China. Besides, we've also seen some of the same complaisance towards the US in the Snowden affair," William Nygaard, Norwegian PEN chairman, told Aftenposten, claiming that Norwegian authorities showed how easily they may be subdued by superpowers.