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King Harald and Queen Sonja highlight winter sports and welfare in Beijing

The ongoing state visit from Norway to China is going well. Following a couple of days in the city of Dunhuang, King Harald and Queen Sonja arrived in Beijing late on Saturday evening. In Beijing on Sunday, the King and Queen highlighted welfare development. This work continued on Monday, add a little winter sport, and you get happy Norwegians and Chinese.

Monday began when King Harald and Queen Sonja arrived at China’s scientific science academy. Following a warm welcome, King Harald opened the first Norwegian-Chinese symposium in Social Studies. During the opening, His Majesty held another speech to promote the Norwegian welfare system in which the Chinese have shown great interest.

The King talks to the Chinese about the Norwegian political system. Photo: The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

His Majesty said: “The goal you have set for 2020 is not only to eradicate poverty but to build a ‘moderately prosperous society in all respects’. At first glance, some might think that this is a modest goal. However, it reflects the understanding deeply rooted in Chinese culture and experience that prosperity is not just a question of individual income. This is a much more ambitious goal. You are aiming for better welfare for all.”

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Statsbesøk til Kina: Kina skal arrangere vinter-OL og Paralympics i 2022. Fram mot mesterskapet satser Kina stort på egne utøvere, og på å gjøre vinteridrett mer kjent – og mer utbredt – blant kineserne. Kina ønsker å lære av norsk skisport, og fra norsk side er det stor interesse for kinesiske erfaringer innen bordtennis og håndball. Nå blir det inngått en samarbeidsavtale. Det hele ble markert med et stort rulleskiarrangement utenfor OL-arenaen «Fugleredet». Kongen og Dronningen var til stede, og fikk hilse på både norske og kinesiske utøvere. Foto: Heiko Junge, @ntb_scanpix #kongehuset #statsbesøk #kongharald #dronningsonja #beijing #kingharald #queensonja #birdsnestbeijing

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After attending the symposium, King Harald and Queen Sonja, went on to The Olympia Park in Beijing. Here the royals saw the sport-cooperation winter sports that Norway and China have begun. During the following week, a new cooperation agreement will be signed between China and Norway. China would like to learn from Norwegian winter sports, and from Norway, the interest is great for China’s experience in branches such as table tennis and handball.

A friendly competition between Norwegian and Chinese skiers was held in the King and Queen’s honour. To the King and Queen’s great pleasure, the Norwegian athletes won. Photo: General Administration of Sport of China.

The Chinese capital has long struggled with terrible air pollution, caused by coal-fired plants and the use of coal for heating. After implementing comprehensive measures, the authority has managed to improve the air, but in recent days, the characteristic smog has fully returned. In Chinese newspapers, residents are encouraged to protect themselves with masks. King Harald, therefore, came out with a strong warning to the Chinese to start to take more care of their environment. In a meeting with the press, His Majesty said: “If we are not careful, then this is the future,” referring to the thick smog.

Winter sports were also the theme of the day’s lunch, which was hosted by China’s sports minister, Gou Zhongwen. After a break for a few hours, King Harald and Queen Sonja hosted a great Norwegian-Chinese friendship dinner. The dinner brought together 300 guests who are essential for the cooperation between the two countries in areas such as politics and society, business, academia, sports, culture and the media.

The Norwegian artist, Alan Walker, is a superstar in China. He was among the guests at the dinner. However, when he met Their Majesties before a concert in Beijing on Monday night, he dropped his mask, which is his trademark. He said to the press that he dropped the mask in respect for the King and Queen. “I think it was necessary to do, to be polite and show respect for the King and Queen”, said Walker to Norwegian state television NRK.

On Tuesday, the visit to Beijing continues. Keep following Royal Central for the latest news on the state visit.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.