With the Vatican signaling that it is hoping to improve ties with mainland China after decades of tension, Taiwan said Sunday that it will follow developments in the matter closely while continuing efforts to strengthen bilateral relations with the Holy See.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said it has been aware of the dialogue between the Vatican and mainland China, as well as the relevant issues. It will continue to pay close attention to this development, the ministry said in a statement.
It also said that the Vatican is not a secular state and its foreign relations emphasize global pastoral and evangelical work, therefore, it is greatly concerned about the treatment of underground church members in mainland China and the problem of bridging the gap between China's recognized church and the Roman Catholic Church.
The statement emphasizes the long-lasting friendship between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Vatican.
"For many years, there have been frequent and close exchanges between high-ranking and influential officials of the two sides," and the cooperation and interactions between the ROC and various committees of the Vatican and Christian charities are also frequent and persistent, the statement said.
The two sides have also worked together for a long time to promote many humanitarian relief projects, helping people suffering from catastrophic events around the world, such as the West African people affected by the Ebola epidemic and earthquake victims in Nepal, Japan and Ecuador, the MOFA said.
While the Vatican and bishops have expressed their gratitude for such relief efforts, Taiwan will continue to promote the humanitarian and charitable partnership with the Holy See, attend Vatican-organized international activities, and strengthen bilateral friendship, the statement said.
The statement was released in response to remarks by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who said in a speech in the northern Italian city of Pordenone the previous day that the Vatican is hopeful it can improve ties with China after decades of tension.
Parolin said warmer relations "will benefit not just Catholics in the land of Confucius, but the whole country, which boasts one of the greatest civilizations on the planet," according to a Reuters report.
The Vatican is the only European country that maintains formal relations with the ROC. Parolin's remarks put Taipei on alert, whose relations with Beijing have cooled since Tsai Ing-wen (???) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party assumed office as president May 20.
Source: Focus Taiwan