China rebukes Norway for expelling scholar working on project at university: State media

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has rebuked Norway for "violating the rights" of a Chinese scholar who was expelled from the country, state media said, in the latest friction that could strain ties already tense over a Nobel Peace Prize for a Chinese dissident.

Norwegian police had ordered the Chinese doctorate student working at the University of Agder to leave Norway before Jan 23, state news agency Xinhua said late on Tuesday.

Mr Ma Qiang, a political counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Norway, raised the issue with Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, Xinhua said. He was quoted as saying that China was highly concerned about the issue and believed the action by Norwegian police against the student, who had been working on a wind-power project at the university for two years, was "totally baseless and unreasonable".

Xinhua cited Norwegian broadcasting company NRK as saying that the Norwegian authorities made the decision out of fear the student's expertise could be used "for military purposes in other countries". "It is an infringement of the scholar's rights, which has a damaging affect on Norway's reputation and image in the international academic world and a negative impact on bilateral ties between China and Norway," Mr Ma was quoted as saying.

Norway's diplomatic relations with China have been frozen since 2010 when the Nobel Committee awarded the peace prize to dissident Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year jail sentence in China on subversion charges.

China cancelled meetings with Norwegian officials and denied visas to visiting dignitaries, even though Norway's government says it has no influence over the Nobel Committee.

Last year, China said it approved of a decision by Norway's prime minister and foreign minister not to meet exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama - another Nobel laureate - when he visited Norway.