• Directory of Taiwan

Beijing pressures Vatican to break relations with Taiwan

Italian media reveals extent of Chinese coercion on Holy See

Pope Francis.

Pope Francis. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China has ramped up pressure on the Vatican to break relations with Taiwan and switch recognition to Beijing, according to an Italian report.

Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper, published an article that revealed the diplomatic challenge Pope Francis is facing from China over Taiwan. The report said the Holy See has come up with a framework for relations with Beijing and that it is gradually reexamining its ties with Taiwan.

The newspaper cited a Vatican official as saying because it has not yet sent envoys to China, the Holy See can only maintain the status quo and hope that things will not worsen.

The Holy See signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops with Beijing in 2018 to unite the Chinese Catholic Church which was divided between a government-approved church and one loyal to Rome, AP reported. Though it was heavily criticized by the U.S. and other countries, the Holy See defended its decision and even extended the agreement in October 2020.

The Vatican has continued dialogue with Beijing, but Chinese diplomats continue to coerce it to "choose sides," according to the Italian newspaper. This has placed the pope in a tough situation because the ecclesiastical nation has never taken the initiative to sever diplomatic relations with any country, CNA reported.

In the intensification of its unification efforts in recent months, China recognizes the importance of the Holy See as Taiwan’s sole diplomatic ally in the west.

Beijing has always gone to great lengths to poach Taiwan’s allies. The East Asian democracy had 32 diplomatic allies in 2000 but now has just 15, per CNA.