So there was a wee little item in Fréttablaðið yesterday that Jón Gnarr, our esteemed mayor, would be meeting a delegation from China, led by the former mayor of Bejing, later in the day. The delegation was here to discuss geothermal energy and nature conservation, and had been formally invited by the City of Reykjavík.
Jón’s assistant sounded slightly embarrassed and apologetic to be conveying this news to the paper. Said something about how the “formal invitation” was just that — a formality — and that the Chinese had, in fact, taken the initiative in wanting to visit.
She also mentioned that it had been decided among members of the Best Party that no formal discussions would be initiated about the oh-so prickly issue of Human Rights in China. They’d just sort of see how things progressed in terms of conversation.
Which is why it was pretty kick-ass refreshing to read this morning that Jón Gnarr formally handed the delegation a letter protesting the arrest of dissident writer and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, before giving them a short postulation on human rights.
According to visir.is, the former mayor of Bejing looked a bit sheepish and some members of the delegation were visibly upset. The ex-mayor received the letter and a short while later left City Hall without a formal goodbye to Mr. Gnarr.
On his Facebook page, Jón writes that, after the meeting, he invited his mother, grandmother and mother-in-law over for coffee and pastries.
Incidentally, Jón Gnarr thereby did what the Icelandic government has repeatedly failed to do — instead they have played to all the whims of the Chinese on their official visits here. It’s downright humiliating.