Taiwan reaffirmed Monday that its diplomatic relations with the Holy See remained strong while refusing to comment on a report that Beijing is continuing efforts to try to get the Vatican to switch diplomatic ties to China.
"The friendly relations between Taiwan and the Vatican remain solid, and two-way communication channels remain open and smooth," Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Joanne Ou (???) said of Taiwan's formal ties with the Holy See.
She would not comment on a report in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Sunday that quoted an unidentified Vatican diplomatic source as saying that China was trying to get the Holy See to break off official ties with Taiwan and establish them with Beijing.
The source told the Italian paper that the talks are stalemated as they have been in recent years because China has not agreed to the Holy See's request to open an "apostolic nunciature," a top-level diplomatic mission equivalent to an embassy, in Beijing before it reviews its relations with Taiwan.
"MOFA will not comment on information disclosed and speculation made by unnamed sources in media reports," Ou said.
The Vatican is one of 15 Taiwan's diplomatic allies worldwide and the only one in Europe.
Some have speculated that an agreement reached by the Vatican and Beijing in 2018 to end a decades-long dispute over the appointment of bishops in China would pave the way to the Vatican forming diplomatic ties with Beijing and ditching Taipei.
Ou on Monday reiterated the government's stance that it has been given assurances from the Holy See that the bishops agreement with China was religious rather than diplomatic in nature.
Taiwan originally hoped that the agreement could help improve religious freedom in China, she said, but that apparently has not been the case as Beijing has stepped up its efforts to suppress religious freedom and human rights by clamping down on underground churches.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel