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China, Vatican planning reconciliation

China and the Vatican are reportedly preparing to bridge the historical differences between them and may even pave the way for the establishment of full diplomatic relations, the Far Eastern Economic Review said yesterday.

A series of carefully choreographed statements and meetings in the weeks ahead will end decades of hostility between the tiny European state and Beijing.

The magazine said Beijing wants to bridge the rift for political reasons.

"In the event of mutual diplomatic recognition, the Vatican would be obliged to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan," the FEER said. "It would also weaken the stance of half a dozen predominantly Catholic countries in Central America that maintains ties with Taiwan."

China and Taiwan have been archrivals since 1949 when the Chinese Nationalists lost a civil war to the Communists and set up a new base in Taiwan.

Quoting diplomatic and church sources, the magazine said the healing of relations will begin on 14 October when Catholic scholars from around the world gather in Beijing for a conference to mark the 400th anniversary of the start of Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci's mission to China in 1601.