Beijing, Oct 4 (IANS) The Chinese government on Tuesday expressed willingness to improve relations with the Vatican and continue a constructive dialogue, that it claims has been clear and constructive.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was responding to Pope Francis’ statements in which he affirmed that “relations between the Vatican and China are good”, EFE news reported.
“China has always been sincere in its intention to improve China-Vatican relations and has made tireless efforts to this end. At present, the channels of dialogue between the two parties are clear and effective,” said the ministry spokesperson.
The ministry also reaffirmed its willingness to continue the constructive dialogue with the Vatican to smooth over bilateral relations that went sour in a row over institutions in the early 1950s.
There has been a certain level of rapprochement between China and the Vatican since the pontification of Pope Francis, who expressed his desire to visit China, a nation no pope has ever visited before.
Pope Francis had responded to media questions by citing exhibitions put up by Vatican museums in China as an example of good relations.
The Pope also revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping had sent him a gift during a seminar on Chinese culture held in the past days.
The diplomatic ties between China and the Vatican have been officially non-existent since 1951, following the ex-communication of two bishops, nominated by Beijing, by Pope Pius XII. Chinese authorities had responded to the move by expelling the apostolic nuncio, who had settled in Taiwan.
Beijing had also demanded that in order to re-establish relations, the Vatican must break with Taiwan first and not interfere in Chinese internal affairs.
In February when the Chinese ministry publicly spoke on relations with the Vatican it demanded that the Holy See, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, must take concrete steps to improve bilateral ties.