Government sources reported today that Beijing might restore relations with Rome if the Vatican severs relations with Taiwan and if religion is not used as a "pretext" to meddle in China´s internal affairs.
Sun Yuxi, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, commented that China "has always said that it is prepared to improve its relations with the Vatican."
But, he added, "the Vatican must sever its diplomatic relations with Taiwan, [and] recognize the government of the People´s Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of the whole of China, and Taiwan as an inalienable part of Chinese territory."
In the second place, the Vatican "cannot interfere with China´s internal affairs using the pretext of religious issues," the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
If "they can accept this principle in the future, the two of us can be like other states," he added. He noted that contact "through diplomatic channels has been going on."
Although the Holy Father asked for forgiveness in a message sent on Wednesday to the participants in the international congress on missionary Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), the spokesman replied that "there has been no change in the principles I mentioned."
"At present we are making an in-depth examination of John Paul II´s message," the spokesman said. This could mean that Beijing has not given a definitive answer to the Pope´s call.
The Communist government severed diplomatic ties with the Vatican in the 1950s, expelled Catholic missionaries, and forced Chinese believers to register with the state-approved Patriotic Association, which claims about 5 million members.