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Norwegian scholar denied visa

(Norwegian PEN/IFEX) - The following is a 22 July 2008 Norwegian PEN press release:

Norwegian scholar Harald Bockman refused visa to China

Norwegian PEN is both shocked and provoked to learn that the Embassy of the People's Republic of China has refused to issue a visa to renowned China-scholar and translator Harald Bockman, consequently denying him entry to China during the Beijing Olympics. "We find this decision unacceptable, in particular since Mr. Bockman did not plan to spend any time attending the games, but merely follow up on his work as a translator and academic", says Norwegian PEN secretary general, Carl Morten Iversen.

As a scholar, translator and researcher Mr. Bockman has contributed substantially to Norwegian people's - and in particular his students' - knowledge of Chinese culture and literature. His planned and now cancelled trip to China was supposed to include meetings with Chinese scholars to discuss the translation into Chinese of Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge, participation at a seminar during the World Conference for Translators in Shanghai and guiding a party of 20 Norwegian translators on a trip to Guilin, Chengdu and Xi'an. Mr. Bockman planned to spend the last two days of his journey - August 17 - 19 - in Beijing.

Mr. Bockman has spent his whole academic career imparting his knowledge about Chinese culture and literature, both historic and contemporary. He has visited China on several occasions, four times during the past year. His latest visit was in May 2008.

"Considering his background and the program for his planned journey, Norwegian PEN finds the decision of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China totally unacceptable. The mere notion that Mr. Bockman represents a security risk during the Beijing Olympics is meaningless and warrants an unreserved apology from Chinese authorities", says Iversen.

Norwegian PEN urges the Chinese ambassador to Norway, Madame Gao Jian, to revoke this decision and immediately grant Mr. Bockman a visa to China for the remainder of his planned trip.

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