Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The Sistine Chapel choir, one of the oldest religious choirs in the world, will not perform in Beijing. Its tour of Asia and Chinese speaking world however will touch on Macao (September 19), Hong Kong (September 21), Taipei (September 23).
According to Eglises d'Asie, originally the choir that accompanies all pontifical ceremonies was supposed to go to Beijing and also various locations on Mainland China. Contacts had even been made between the Holy See and the Chinese government to finalize plans for what could have been the openings of diplomatic ties through culture.
The "cultural diplomacy" had played a modest role in May 2008 when, on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, the Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra and the Shanghai Opera chorus performed in the Vatican, in the presence of Benedict XVI (photo). At that time China was eager to present an image of openness to the international community, to promote tourist's participation in the Olympics.
The Sistine Chapel tour performances were announced prior to the Pope's visit to Korea, in an attempt to emphasize its cultural and non-religious aspect. But this caution has proven fruitless.
According to information obtained by AsiaNews, this "cultural diplomacy" toward a diplomatic breakthrough is not just being used by the Vatican. Last year there was an attempt to bring an exhibition featuring works from the Vatican Museums to Beijing and other Chinese cities, which was later blocked. Currently a request put forward by some Chinese universities to be able to exhibit historical documents on relations between the papacy and Imperial China, found in the Vatican Archives is under consideration.