Taiwan’s deputy foreign minister dismisses rumours that his government is concerned about an alleged rapprochement between Beijing and the Holy See. Due to the Vatican’s mission to promote universal values, which would be good for China, Taiwan is not only not opposed to, but also thinks it is positive. Taiwan’s vice president will attend Mother Teresa’s canonisation.
Taipei (AsiaNews) – “Taipei and the Holy See are diplomatic allies connected by the same values, sharing a consensus on many aspects, including religious freedom, democracy, human rights and humanitarian aid,” said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Chih-chung at a forum on the island’s democratic development.
Wu also noted that, due to its mission to promote human rights and religious freedom, the Vatican is supposed to engage in dialogue with China, something that Taiwan is not only not opposed to, but also thinks is positive.
After Mao Zedong seized power, Taiwan has led a parallel life from mainland China. Until the 1970s, it was recognised by the international community as the legitimate seat of the Chinese government, albeit in exile, but the rapprochement between Beijing and Washington changed things.
Since then Taipei has had to struggle to maintain diplomatic relations with other countries, whose number has steadily dropped.
The State of Vatican City is one of the island’s last official diplomatic allies, even though for China, it is a "rebel province" that needs to be brought back into the fold.
For Beijing, in addition to the thorny issue of episcopal appointment, diplomatic relations with the Holy See are premised on ending ties with Taipei.
For many analysts, rumours of an “imminent" rapprochement with China have raised concerns in Taiwan. However, the current government has denied them, adding that open diplomatic channels are a positive step.
Asked about the status of Taiwan-Vatican relations, Wu said the ties have been and are expected to remain relatively stable, but acknowledged that this might not last forever, as “many things are changing.”
Wu will be in the Vatican on 2 September with a delegation accompanying Vice President Chen Chien-jen for the canonisation of Mother Teresa.
For him, the Vatican is not a country that puts national interests above all else but aims to push for religious freedom and the promotion of the Catholic faith.
“As far as the government is concerned, our priority is to maintain official diplomatic ties with the Vatican,” Wu noted.