China's top religious affairs official reiterated on Wednesday
that the country is ready to improve ties with the Vatican as long
as the Holy See accepts two conditions.
The two are recognition of the one-China principle and
non-interference in the country's internal affairs.
"China is ready to develop ties with the Vatican at any time on
the basis of the two principles," said Ye Xiaowen, head of the
State Administration for Religious Affairs, during a press
conference held at the Chinese Embassy in the United States.
"China's religious affairs brook no intervention by foreign
forces ... and we hope the Vatican will respect the principle,"
said Ye, who is on a four-day US visit that started on Monday.
There are 5 million Catholics on the Chinese mainland.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao yesterday
urged the Vatican to show sincerity over the two important issues
and create conditions for normalizing and improving relations.
Ye also pledged that the authorities will better safeguard
religious freedom as part of the country's efforts to build a
"The government's respect for religious freedom is sincere and
consistent," he said.
"Only by respecting the religious freedom of its citizens can
the country unite most of the people and achieve its goal of
national rejuvenation and building a harmonious world."
Ye also told US academic and religious representatives on
Tuesday that mutual appreciation and peaceful coexistence among
different cultures hold the key to global harmony.
China is making great efforts to build a harmonious society, he
said, adding that "we believe that Americans can understand the
Chinese ideal of harmony and appreciate the beauty of China, so as
to contribute to the building of a harmonious world".
(Xinhua News Agency February 22, 2008)