Wednesday, April 20, 2005

China warns new pontiff on Taiwan

(from International Herald Tribune)

China wasted little time before warning the new pope, Benedict XVI, on Wednesday that the Vatican and China could establish formal relations only if the Vatican dissolved its diplomatic links with Taiwan and promised not to "interfere in China's internal affairs."

The statement signaled that China was unlikely to make any concessions soon that would open the way for formal ties between China and the Vatican.

"We are willing to improve relations with the Vatican on the basis of two principles," said the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qin Gang, in a brief statement congratulating Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on his election as pope. Qin said the Vatican must sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan and "acknowledge that the People's Republic of China is China's sole legitimate government." China regards the self-governed Taiwan as a renegade province.

Qin added that "the Vatican cannot interfere in China's internal affairs, including interference in the name of religious matters."

The Vatican is the last remaining European state to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, attended Pope John Paul II's funeral, angering China's government and "patriotic" Catholic Church.

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