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Taiwan Watches Uneasily As Vatican Deepens China Ties, Says It Will Be Watching Closely

Taiwan, Vatican

Taiwan has watched uneasily as the Vatican has deepened ties with China. Its foreign ministry says it will be paying close attention to the interactions between the Vatican and China.

Growing Vatican China ties

The Vatican’s top diplomat, Cardinal Pietro Paroli said on Tuesday that it would like to upgrade relations with China. It will soon be establishing a permanent office there. This comes as a blow to Taiwan as the Vatican is only one of a dozen countries to maintain formal diplomatic ties with it.

The ministry has responded to Cardinal Paroli’s comments by stating it will continue to promote co-operation with the Vatican and the Catholic Church in fields such as humanitarian assistance, and defence of what it called the “core values of religious freedom.” It added in a statement that it understood the need for the Catholic church to promote the rights of Chinese Catholics.

“We understand that the Holy See hopes to promote the freedom of belief and rights of Chinese Catholics, and has publicly expressed its desire to send representatives to China many times.”

Taiwan warns Vatican about China

Taiwan’s foreign ministry made it clear that China continued to clamp down on religious freedom since the first Chinese synod was held in 1924. The ministry claims China had “repeatedly violated” a 2018 agreement on the appointment of bishops. It called on all nations to work together to urge China to stop its “violations of religious freedom and basic human rights.”

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Taiwan, however, maintained that it would continue to carry out important work with the Vatican. Taiwan’s deputy environment minister Shih Wen-chen led a delegation to a Vatican seminar on climate change this month. They met Pope Francis. The Vatican also sent an envoy, its ambassador to the Philippines, Charles John Brown, to Taiwan President Lai Ching-te’s inauguration.

Outgoing president Tsai Ing-wen met Brown in the presidential office shortly before the event.

“Hopefully we will be getting your continued support.”