1 October, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 05/06/2008
VATICAN - CHINA
The concert of the Chinese orchestra at the Vatican
The China Philharmonic Orchestra of Beijing and the chorus of the Shanghai Opera will perform Mozart's Requiem and Chinese folk songs for Benedict XVI. Interpretations of the event abound: preparation for diplomatic relations; publicity by Beijing to improve its image, after the violence in Tibet and international criticism. It is clear that there is division within the Beijing leadership on questions of religious freedom.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The leading orchestra of China will perform tomorrow in front of Benedict XVI.  The  China Philharmonic Orchestra of Beijing, on a tour of Europe, has decided to include a stop at the Vatican.  In the Paul VI audience hall, the orchestra conducted by Long Yu, one the most renowned Chinese conductors with international experience, will perform Mozart's Requiem in honour of the pontiff, followed by some Chinese folk songs, including the famous "Molihua" ("Jasmine Flower").  The orchestra will be accompanied by the chorus of the Shanghai Opera.

Benedict XVI will give an address at the end of the concert.

The Vatican has not issued any official invitations to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See for this occasion.  Given the low profile of the event, the Vatican can permit the presence of both the ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), accredited to the Holy See, and that of the ambassador to Italy of the People's Republic.  The Chinese embassy has confirmed the presence of the diplomat of Beijing, but it did not want to release any statement on the significance of the event.  The ambassador of Taiwan will not be present, because of prior commitments.

China and the Vatican do not have diplomatic relations, although for some time there have been signs of openness to from both sides, which have been blocked by inflexibility, arrests of the faithful, and isolation.

There are various interpretations of the meaning of this event.  Some, especially Long Yu himself, speak of a "ping pong diplomacy", recalling the ping pong matches between Chinese and Americans in 1971 that facilitated diplomatic relations between China and the U.S.

On the part of the Vatican, emphasis is being given to the concert and to the hospitality of the pope.  L'Osservatore Romano and Vatican Radio emphasise that with this concert, "music is confirming its role as a language and the most precious medium for dialogue among peoples and cultures".

The Chinese foreign ministry also affirms that "music is a universal language that can bring together people from different countries, and from different religious and cultural backgrounds". Expressing his hope that the concert will be "a big success", a spokesman of the ministry nevertheless specifies that this is "a people-to-people exchange event through culture and art".

Downplaying the significance of the event even more is Ye Xiaowen, director of the state administration for religious affairs, who has stated in a Chinese newspaper: "The concert at the Vatican is only one stop in the orchestra's European tour; they are not going deliberately to the Vatican for the performance".

He added, however, that "the cultural exchange certainly serves to promote reciprocal contacts".

Chinese Catholics of the official and underground Church, contacted by AsiaNews, are happy to hear of this gesture of "détente", but note that all of this seems to be "a publicity campaign by China, at a time when it is looked upon unfavourably by the international community because of the repression against the Tibetans and human rights activists".

Something similar has taken place in the recent past.  A few months ago, several days after director Steven Spielberg refused to participate in preparation for the Olympics, Ye Xiaowen had to polish China's public image by making very favourable statements on China-Vatican relations (see AsiaNews 22/02/2008).  A few weeks later, in an interview with a Chinese newspaper, he spoke instead of the "double face of the Vatican", and of the pope's attempts to "colonise" the Chinese national Church (see AsiaNews 21/3/2008).

After many signals, it now appears evident that within the Chinese leadership - and above all in the foreign ministry - there is interest in diplomatic relations with the Holy See and in increasing the contribution of religion to the development of the country.  But there is also part of the leadership that is tied to old ideological views and to the totalitarian and Confucian conception of power, which admits only religious experience that is strictly controlled by the state.  For them, the requests for religious freedom on the part of the Catholic Church and the pope are unacceptable.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
05/08/2008 CHINA - VATICAN
Chinese websites on the concert of the Beijing orchestra for the pope
05/07/2008 VATICAN - CHINA
Pope: an homage to Chinese culture, and to the "faithful" Catholics
by Franco Pisano
05/03/2008 CHINA - TIBET
Beijing will have Tibetans carry the torch on Everest
08/03/2008 VATICAN - CHINA
Benedict XVI's wishes for Beijing and the Olympics
by Bernardo Cervellera
05/07/2008 CHINA - JAPAN
An historic agreement for regular meetings between Beijing and Tokyo

Editor's choices
IRAQ-VATICAN
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul": Archbishops’ thanks as first aid arrives
by Amel NonaMsgr. Amel Nona, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, who is also a refugee himself, thanks all the donors to the AsiaNews campaign. The situation is increasingly difficult given the huge number of refugees and the arrival of winter and snow, making outdoor shelters and tents impossible. The crisis, an occasion that activates the faith of Christians.
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.