Montag, 27.05.2019 01:55 Uhr

What kind of relationship behind China-Vatican agreement?

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 12.11.2018, 12:52 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Dr. Carlo Marino Bericht 5624x gelesen

Rome [ENA] On 22nd September 2018 the PRC and the Holy See signed signed in Beijing a "provisional agreement" on the appointment of bishops. The method and the way of signing this agreement are undoubtedly extraordinary. The representative of the Chinese government H.E. Mr Wang Chao, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

of the People’s Republic of China, is a top level representative and signed an agreement with a State with whom Beijing does not have diplomatic relations. More atypical is the fact that the agreement does not entail explicitly any modification in the stern application of the new law on religions, in force since last February. The signature of the agreement and its successful implementation specifies the position of seven illegitimate bishops appointed without the approval of Rome, three of whom excommunicated. They have been reconciled with the Holy See after having officially asked exculpation.

The Pope accepted the Chinese "democratic" process for the election of bishops. The priests, religious and laity of the patriotic association of the diocese participate in the elections. Their candidate is then introduced to the Chinese Episcopal Conference. The agreement states clearly that the elected candidate must be presented to the Holy See for a final approval by the Pope. The Pope can then exercise a right of veto if the candidate is inadequate. It would have been a victory for the Pope if this provision were corroborated in practice. The Apostolic Prefecture of Chengde, in the province of Hebei, was elevated to the rank of diocese with voting right of the archbishopric of Beijing.

The agreement presents this change as a will of the Pope. It would be a first interference by the pontiff in the destiny of the dioceses of China in decades. Chengde hosts the Summer Palace of Chinese emperors. It was in this palace that, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the emperor Kangxi received the delegate of the Holy See, Msgr. de Tournon. The emperor did not understand the requests of the delegate but he became aware that the Pope intruded into China's internal affairs. Shortly after this audience Msgr. De Tournon was exiled to Macau, where he received the cardinal's hat from the Pope.

The honor given today to the bishop of Chengde could be understood as a historical revenge for Roman requests, always deemed as a political interference that calls into question the absolute power of the Party. For Pope Francis, diplomacy is a privileged instrument for overcoming opposing political ideas, different religious conceptions or different ideologies. This was recently explained by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, in a conference on 7 November concerning "Diplomacy of values and development", promoted by the Association of Political Charity in Vatican.

Ileana Florescu, Maiestate Tantum

In his speech, the Vatican Secretary of State stressed that the value of the equilibrium should govern also the current international relations, and this to guarantee a peaceful coexistence, the respect for people and for rights in favor of solidarity development. Diplomacy does not exist or work to maintain the status quo or to maintain power, but it is rather entrusted with the task of developing original ideas and innovative strategies, seeking new and sustainable solutions. Cardinal Parolin has delineated diplomacy as a solid alternative to arms, violence and terror, as a vehicle for dialogue and reconciliation. And this is the position of the Vatican.

China, the other part of the agreement, is increasingly known for its ability to adjust and adapt everything to its interests, starting from the socialist model that has become "socialism with Chinese characteristics" in order to specify its gradual departure from the socialist one and the insertion of elements of market economy, still under the control of the central government . And then there is "socialism with Chinese characteristics for the New Era", the new definition coined by President Xi Jinping during the XIX Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, in October 2017.

Socialism is not the only thing to have "Chinese characteristics", even the diplomatic system of China presents peculiar aspects that seem to challenge the "generalist" approach widespread in Western countries. The Chinese diplomatic network has 170 embassies and 10 permanent missions in the world. As is the case for Western countries' ambassadors, Chinese diplomatic officials on average remain in office for around 3.5 years. The difference with the rest of the world of the Chinese model concerns the highest positions in the embassies of the countries considered the most important by Beijing government - such as Russia, United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan, Germany, Brazil, India and North Korea.

In this case the figure of the "generalist" ambassador is ready to move elsewhere at the end of the three-year term, replacing figures of regional experts. The basic criteria for the selection of these prominent figures are three: the knowledge of foreign languages and the specialization in issues related to a certain area and previous work experience. According to Beijing, the understanding of the country and the region of destination allows its diplomats to protect and carry forward China's interests to the full.

This criterion seems to be gaining increasing importance for the Chinese central government. More than half of the ambassadors who received a new post between 2017 and the first half of 2018 have specific regional experience and knowledge that is superior to that of their predecessor. President Xi Jinping highlighted another key factor in the selection of the highest officials of Chinese diplomacy: loyalty to the Party, recalling that all diplomats are, before anything else, "Party cadres".

The second feature of the Chinese embassies model is that within each diplomatic office not all officials are directly dependent on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but there are also sent and advisers from other Ministries and government departments that do not respond directly to the ambassador, making management complex. The peculiarity of the Chinese embassies, together with the knowledge of the language of destination countries, puts China in a strong position, especially in vis-a-vis meetings. May be this has been the kind of diplomatic relationship behind China-Vatican agreement.

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