11/01/2019, 11.45
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Chinese consul in Istanbul meets Patriarch Bartholomew

This is the first time a Chinese government official visits the Fanar. The Ecumenical Patriarch, who has been invited to visit China, is “ready to leave as soon as he received an official invitation”. Consul Cui Wei requested the meeting and visited the cathedral with the religious leader. For some analysts, “The meeting could have an anti-Russian orientation.”

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – China’s Consul General in Istanbul Cui Wei met Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, telling him that he wishes to see him soon in China.

This is the first visit ever by a Chinese government official to the Fanar. The meeting, which took place on Wednesday, was held on the consul’s request.

“Bartholomew explained to the consul the history of the Patriarchate, its function, its problems and described its international ministry towards Orthodox communities abroad,” the Patriarchate’s press office told AsiaNews.

The Patriarch briefed the diplomat “on the Orthodox presence in Hong Kong (Orthodox metropolis), which serves Orthodox believers working or travelling there.”

In response, Cui Wei “explained to Bartholomew how China deals with religious issues, adding that he would like to see the Patriarch visit China. The Patriarch replied immediately that he was ready to leave as soon as he received an official invitation from the government.”

Some analysts believe that this visit "is perhaps due to a new approach by China to the religious question. However, geopolitical considerations also come into play. The meeting could have an anti-Russian orientation. It could help contain Russia, which has caused tensions with Europe and Japan. The Chinese perhaps realise that Bartholomew is able to stand up to the Patriarch of Moscow.”

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