China willing to work with Vatican to improve relations

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China’s foreign ministry is willing to work with the Vatican to improve relations, ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular press conference on Wednesday.

The Vatican, which only has formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, would like to establish a permanent office in China, its top diplomat, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said on Tuesday.

This move would be a major upgrade of diplomatic relations.

The Vatican is one of only a dozen countries to maintain formal diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, while Taipei has watched nervously as Pope Francis seeks to improve ties with Beijing.

This week, the Vatican sent its ambassador to the Philippines, Charles John Brown, to the inauguration of Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te, who hoped to work closely with Vatican to ‘safeguard regional peace and stability’ and defence the ‘freedom of religion’.