Daniel W. Drezner

Is Norway a low quality, badly behaved country?

It would be safe to describe the Chinese government as having been "peeved" at Norway for the Nobel Peace Prize that Liu Xiaobo was awarded back in 2010.  More than two years later, Beijing is still pissed off at Oslo, according to the Financial Times’ Jamil Anderlini and Clare MacCarthy: China is offering visa-free visits ...

It would be safe to describe the Chinese government as having been "peeved" at Norway for the Nobel Peace Prize that Liu Xiaobo was awarded back in 2010.  More than two years later, Beijing is still pissed off at Oslo, according to the Financial Times’ Jamil Anderlini and Clare MacCarthy:

China is offering visa-free visits to Beijing for visitors from every European country except Norway, in what appears to be the latest in a string of punishments for the Nordic country since it gave a jailed Chinese dissident the Nobel peace prize in 2010.

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of five appointed by the Norwegian parliament, and committee members have always been Norwegian nationals.

On Wednesday, the Beijing city government unveiled a list of 45 countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter the city while in transit for 72 hours without a visa, starting from January 1.

Visitors from all 27 EU member states, as well as Iceland and Switzerland, will enjoy the new visa-free treatment, as will those from the US, Russia, Japan, Australia and most major Latin American countries.

When asked why Norway was left off the list, Wang Qin, a senior official at the Beijing government travel administration, did not respond directly but said that some countries were not eligible because their citizens or government were “of low-quality” and “badly behaved”.  (emphasis added)

Yeah!!  I’ve taught a few Norwegians in my day, and the whole lot of them are low quality and badly behaved, with their inscrutable fjords and smug blondness and their vague association with herring and their very specific association with lutefisk!! 

In fact, I’m glad Wang Qin brought this up, because in the past couple of months a whole bunch of country rankings have come out, and they’re an excellent way to bolster Wang’s assertion of low Norwegian quality and bad behavior, especialy as compared with a peacefully rising China.

Why, just yesterday, Transparency International released their 2012 Corruptions Perception Index, and Norway ranks 7th and China ranks 80th!!  Who’s dirty now??!!  [Ahem!–ed.]  Oh…. Norway’s the 7th least corrupt economy and China is… way more corrupt. 

Well, there’s more than one ranking system! A few weeks ago the World Justice Project released their 2012 Rule of Law Index.  I bet that shows how dirty Norway really is!!  [Ahem!–ed.]  Oh… Norway is actually pretty good on rule of law issues, including ranking first among all 97 countries in civil justice.  Whereas China is…. um… not as good, ranking 94th out of 97 countries on fundamental rights. 

Well, even if Norway’s government is pretty good, I bet their low quality, badly behaved people make the country an unlivable hellhole compared to Beijing.  [Ahem!!–ed.]  Oh… so based on Legatum’s 2012 Prosperity Index, Norway is actually the most prosperous country in the world, whereas China ranks…. 55th. 

Well, I’m sure if you looked at other ranking systems, like the U.N. Human Development Index or just GDP per capita, you’d find… similar results. 

[But that’s just because Norway’s rich!!  What have they done for the rest of the exploited developing world??!!–ed.cn]  Excellent point, oh great and glorious Beijing-based editor!!  Why, when we go to the Center for Global Development’s 2012 Commitment to Development Index, we find that… that… Norway is the second-most supportive country for assisting the developing world.  Son of a….

Look, it kills me to write this.  I use to have great fun teasing my Norwegian students about the whaling and the high agricultural import barriers, just so they wouldn’t think they were all that and a bag of chips.  But if China thinks Norway is a country of low quality and bad behavior, then China would be what happened if Lindsay Lohan hooked up with Kid Rock at 4 AM after a two-day coke bender and three bottles of Patron.   

In other words, Wang Qin wins this week’s Vizzini Award.    

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