With China's president in Rome, a Chinese official reiterated Beijing's willingness to improve Sino-Vatican relations along with its two preconditions for this, while a Vatican official said the Holy See is willing to adjust its relations with Taiwan. In a recent press conference in Rome, China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said that China is willing to improve and develop relations with the Vatican, provided that its two long-held preconditions are met.
    Hong Kong's UCA Catholic news agency reports that China is insisting the Holy See sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan, because there is only one China and the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government of China, and the Vatican must not use religion to interfere in China's internal affairs. Zhu added that China has pursued a policy of religious freedom and that religious believers and non-believers are considered equal under Chinese law. Zhu is among the 80-member delegation accompanying Chinese President Jiang Zemin on a European tour. Jiang arrived in Italy March 20 for a five-day visit before heading to Switzerland and Austria.
    Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano has reportedly requested Italian Prime Minister Lamberto Dini to convey to Jiang the Vatican's wish to normalize relations with China, saying this will be beneficial to China. Dini reportedly agreed to the request. Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, conceded that the Holy See would have to "modify" its relations with Taiwan if it is to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing.

31/03/99 2:35:04 / UCAN


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