Skip to comments.Taiwan's Chen Heads for Pope's Funeral as China Fumes
Posted on 04/07/2005 8:59:23 AM PDT by bloggodocio
Thu Apr 7, 6:06 AM ET By Alice Hung and Lindsay Beck
TAIPEI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian left on Thursday for an unprecedented visit to the Vatican to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul, undermining chances of the Holy See switching ties from Taipei to Beijing.
The Pope's death last Saturday offered an opportunity for detente between Beijing and the Vatican, but China said it was dismayed Chen, president of an island Beijing considers part of its own territory, had been granted a visa and that China would not send an envoy to the funeral.
Beijing cut relations with the Holy See in 1951, two years after the Communists came to power, and expelled foreign clergy. Believers must attend state-sanctioned churches that pledge loyalty to Beijing, although many secretly acknowledge the Pope's authority.
"We have already expressed our dissatisfaction with the Vatican and the Italian side," Chinese Foreign Ministry Qin Gang told a news briefing in Beijing.
Chen's one-day visit to Taiwan's only European ally marks a diplomatic breakthrough for the self-ruled island.
Chen is the first Taiwan president to set foot in Europe while in office. The Vatican is one of only 25 states, mostly Third World countries in Africa and Latin America, that officially recognize Taipei.
The rest of the world has diplomatic ties with China.
Describing his trip as a "journey of peace," Chen said he hoped to join world leaders to pay respect to the Pope and cement diplomatic ties with the Holy See.
"As the Vatican's most faithful partner, we will make every effort to follow the example set by the Pope," Chen said before leaving for Rome on a chartered plane.
"Taiwan will pursue lasting peace in the Taiwan Strait and open the door of reconciliation and dialogue between both sides to respond to the expectations of the international community," said Chen.
He was accompanied by Taiwan Foreign Minister Mark Chen as well as Catholic and Muslim leaders.
But Beijing's Qin said Chen's aim was not to mourn the Pope but to play politics.
"His real purpose is to take the opportunity to engage in secessionist actions to create two Chinas -- one China and one Taiwan -- which is what we firmly oppose," he said.
The row follows comments by Joseph Zen, the head of the Hong Kong Roman Catholic diocese, on Tuesday that the Vatican is reluctantly ready to cut ties with Taiwan and recognize China if Beijing can guarantee religious freedom.
But the Vatican denied any change to its position and Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said the island's ties with the Holy See remained strong.
China and the Vatican have shown signs of rapprochement in the past only to hit new lows, and analysts say Beijing, concerned about challenges to Communist Party rule, is unlikely to relinquish control over religious groups.
Put some ice on it, China.
I was talking to a friend of mine who is in the process of being ordained by the orthodox church. We were spectulating on the mystery cardinal. Most including us believe him to be Chinese. He took it further and spectulated on the possiblity of hime being the next pope. After all the Vatican is keen on expanding into China and it took a Polish Pope to end communism in Poland.
Oh poor baby, now go cry in your pillow. The Vatican is the only country of any importance with the balls to recognize the real China. The rest of the world should follow its lead, including our President who seems to have none on certain subjects.
Yep, I think there are some very nervous people in the Chinese Politburo right now.
So the Pope's death was an "opportunity" to improve relations with Bejing?? What would be the basis of that opportunity, is China democratizing, or lessening religious repression, or forsaking aggression against democratic Taiwan? No, the Pope's death is not an "opportunity" for leftist fantasies.
Mainland china has nothing to say about what Taiwan does.
Let's all stand for TAIWAN in this incredible moment of history, President Chen of Taiwan going to Vatican, and rubbing it in the Communist's faces.
To hell with Asian Bolshevism, to hell with the Peoples' Republic of Wal-Mart.
You go guy! (President Chen).
And Taiwan's latest "crime" here is to attend the Pope's funeral and show respect? This article is a nice little glimpse at what passes for justice among the liberals. The passing of a great Pope is seen as an opportunity for China to get over on the Church and further isolate a democracy. IMHO the liberals should, and probably will, rot in Hell.
Communist China is in a cleft stick. The don't want to recognize any Church but the tame National Church, so they have rebuffed all the Vatican's diplomatic iniatives. Very possibly the Vatican would have agreed to cut ties with Taiwan like most of the rest of the world, if not for this one sticking point.
China observed what happened in Poland, and they were filled with fear. They don't want to permit any kind of free Church to take hold in their country, or they might go the same way as Poland and the Soviet Union.
China pretty much forced the other countries to switch embassies to Beijing, but they can't do that with the Vatican as long as the Vatican holds out for a free Church; and the Vatican hasn't much choice on that issue. They can't abandon the Chinese underground Church or the Chinese martyrs and saints.
Norman Greenbaum wrote that song one street over from where I live. The old Italian ladies used to throw clothespins at him.
They'll round up some Catholics in China for a good beating, I suspect.
Nobody will complain.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.