|Taiwan||VATICAN COULD SWITCH RECOGNITION FROM TAIPEI TO BEIJING|
The Vatican is expected to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China "very soon" as Beijing stepped up efforts to squeeze the Nationalist island's international space, it was reported yesterday in Taipei.
Taiwanese ambassador to the Catholic Church Raymond Tai was quoted by the United Daily News as saying the Vatican and China have established an official communication channel and "very soon both sides would establish diplomatic relations."
He said: "There is little we can do regarding the attempt at normalising Vatican-Beijing ties. The Vatican has made its decision that it wants the ties."
But Taiwan's Vice Foreign Minister David Lee said Tai had been misquoted, without elaborating on what the envoy had told the newspaper. But he conceded the diplomatic tussle had become so vigorous that Taiwan has "to step up efforts to cement ties with the Holy See."
"Religious freedom and the Holy See's right to ordain Catholic bishops in the mainland remain major barriers ... and these problems are not expected to be resolved easily," he said.
Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano confirmed last month that an unofficial channel of communication had been opened up.
Beijing has said the Vatican must sever its diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and stop interfering in what it said was China's internal affairs through religious activities if the links are to be normalised.