China in talks with Vatican

Beijing - China yesterday reacted cautiously to the Vatican's call for dialogue and insisted that the Holy See sever ties with Taiwan in order to forge diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Beijing - China yesterday reacted cautiously to the Vatican's call for dialogue and insisted that the Holy See sever ties with Taiwan in order to forge diplomatic relations with Beijing.

In a special meeting concerning its relations with China, the Vatican called for "respectful and constructive dialogue" with Beijing and expressed hopes for the normalisation of ties.

Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the official Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said that his association, the state-run administrator of China's Catholic church, still hopes that formal ties between the Vatican and Beijing can be established "as soon as possible".

But he reiterated his government's demands that the Holy See cut its ties with Taiwan, which Beijing insists is part of its territory.

"The Chinese government has two conditions on establishing relations with the Vatican," Liu said.

"The first is that the Vatican must severe all relations with Taiwan and the second is that it must commit to not interfering in China's internal affairs."

Following the two-day review of its China policy, the Holy See said it wished to "overcome misunderstandings of the past" with Beijing, which does not allow Chinese Catholics to recognise papal authority.

China's state-sanctioned church has about four million worshippers, official figures show. The Vatican estimates that an underground church has about 10 million followers.

In 1951 Beijing cut diplomatic ties with the Vatican, which has since recognised Taiwan.

China refuses diplomatic relations with any nation that maintains official ties with Taiwan. - Sapa-AFP

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