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Flag of Taiwan ally Vatican appears in China

Pope Francis and China struck a deal last year about the appointment of bishops

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Pope Francis meeting Chinese pilgrims last year.

Pope Francis meeting Chinese pilgrims last year. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - The flag of Taiwan’s only European ally, the Vatican, appeared at a garden show in China, causing renewed concern about the future of the island nation’s ties to the Catholic city state, reports said Tuesday (April 30).

The International Horticultural Exhibition opened in Beijing on April 28, boasting that 110 countries participated in the event, including the Vatican. Last fall, China and the Vatican signed a “provisional agreement” about the appointment of bishops in the communist country, seen as evidence of warming unofficial relations and as a potential threat to the Church’s Taiwan links.

Pro-Chinese website Duowei News interpreted the appearance of the Vatican’s white-and-yellow flag at the gardening event as a potential shock to viewers in Taiwan, since a break in relations would deliver a blow to the island’s morale.

The Vatican was looking to expand the influence of the Catholic Church, while China wanted to resolve a religious problem, but Taiwan only saw a Chinese attempt at isolating it, Duowei reported, according to the Liberty Times.

However, in the latest edition of a report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, China still ranked as a “recommended country of particular concern,” the Liberty Times reported.