02/01/2018, 17.37
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Taiwanese lawmakers seek audience with Pope Francis

Five Taiwanese politicians plan to visit the Vatican, Italy and Greece. They are concerned that the possible recognition of unlawful bishops might lead to a diplomatic crisis. The People's Republic of China and the Vatican differ on many things, especially religious freedom, says Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anna Kao.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A small group of Taiwanese parliamentarians is trying to have an audience with Pope Francis, worried about the diplomatic fate of the island nation after the Vatican recently seems to have taken steps towards the possible recognition of some unlawful bishops accepted by Chinese authorities.

The Vatican is one of 20 states that still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of the People's Republic of China. In 1951 Mao's China expelled the then nuncio Mgr Antonio Ribeiri, who – after many unheeded requests to return to Beijing – moved to Taipei in 1952.

For mainland China, Taiwan is a rebel province and has demanded that all countries break off relations with Taiwan.

The five Taiwanese parliamentarians, including the Hon Tsai Shih-ying, hope to speak with Pope Francis on issues related to relations between Taiwan and the Vatican. Their visit will take them to Italy, the Vatican and Greece.

Since 2016, when the Progressive Democratic Party’s candidate, Tsai Ing-wen (pictured), won Taiwan’s presidential elections, Beijing has been increasing economic and political pressures on the island, because the president will not recognise the principle of One China, implying that Taiwan is equal to the People's Republic of China.

Anna Kao, head of the Department of European Affairs at Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the Ministry is well aware of the ongoing dialogue between the Vatican and Beijing.

With respect to episcopal appointments, even if there is a breakthrough over such appointments, Kao said there remain huge differences between Beijing and the Vatican on various issues concerning religious freedom.

By contrast, Taiwan has democracy and freedom, with a vibrant Catholic community, she added.

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