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China says Pope's apology did not go far enough

China said on Tuesday that Pope John Paul's apology for Church errors of the colonial past did not go far enough because he did not say sorry for canonising Catholic martyrs on China's National Day last year.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said China would still resume talks on opening diplomatic ties with the Vatican if the Holy See cut relations with Taiwan and agreed not to interfere in China's internal affairs.

The Pope's request for forgiveness and understanding for the errors of missionaries in colonial times last Wednesday was "a positive expression," Sun told a news conference.

"However, we have also noticed that the Pope did not make a clear apology for the canonisation last year, which deeply hurt the feelings of the Chinese people," he said. "We feel disappointed by that."

Relations between the Vatican and Beijing hit a low when the Pope canonised 120 Catholic martyrs on China's 1 October National Day last year after the Chinese state-approved church ordained five new bishops.

Chinese Catholics have welcomed the Pope's overture. But scholars say a swift breakthrough is unlikely after half a century of bitterness, despite the Holy Father's expressed wish to visit China before he dies and to expand the reach of the church among the country's 1.3 billion people.