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Taiwan's Ambassador to the Holy See Urges Democracies to Stand Against Authoritarian Aggression

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Taiwan's ambassador to the Holy See, Matthew Lee, emphasized the significance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait during a reception on October 5. He urged democracies worldwide to unite and "hold firm in resisting authoritarian aggression together."

Chinese officials continue to insist that Taiwan is still part of China. Photo credit: Timo Volz

Chinese officials continue to insist that Taiwan is still part of China. Photo credit: Timo Volz

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
10/5/2023 (7 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Taiwan, Holy See, Taiwan Strait, peace and stability, diplomatic relations, democratic countries

Lee underscored Taiwan's commitment to the path of peace, stating, "Preventing a war beforehand is much more critical than stopping a war afterwards." He referenced the devastating conflict in Ukraine as a stark reminder of the horrors of war and echoed the Holy Father's call for tireless efforts to avoid war and promote peace.

Notably, Vatican City State remains the sole European country recognizing Taiwan as an independent nation. Bishop Norbert Pu of Kiayi, Taiwan, expressed the importance of the Holy See's diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, emphasizing its significance not only for Taiwanese Catholics but for all Taiwanese citizens. He expressed the hope for broader international recognition.

Bishop Pu is a delegate in the ongoing Synod on Synodality assembly at the Vatican, where the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), since 1922. In contrast, the Church lacks an official diplomatic presence in mainland China since Beijing's expulsion in 1951.

Ambassador Lee highlighted the warm and enduring relations between Taiwan and the Holy See, which have thrived for over 81 years. He expressed pride in their collaborative efforts to promote peace, justice, evangelization, and humanitarian endeavors on a global scale.

During the event, Archbishop Angelo Zani, the Vatican Library's archivist and librarian, shared his experiences following his visit to Taiwan earlier in the year.

The reception marked an early celebration of Taiwan's National Day on October 10, commemorating the 1911 uprising that led to the establishment of the Republic of China before its relocation to Taiwan. Despite mounting pressure from Beijing concerning Taiwan's status, the island nation, located less than 110 miles off the Chinese coast and home to over 23 million people, continues to uphold a vibrant democracy with robust civil liberties.

While only 14 states worldwide maintain full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it faces challenges from the Chinese Communist Party government, which views Taiwan as a renegade province and pressures countries to sever diplomatic ties with the island.

In light of concerns regarding the Vatican's renewal of its 2018 provisional accord with Beijing and its implications for the Holy See's relationship with Taiwan, the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs received assurances from the Vatican regarding the Vatican-China deal in 2020.

Ambassador Lee also addressed China's provocative actions, such as dispatching military aircraft and vessels in the Taiwan Strait, East and South China Seas, and neighboring countries. He asserted that China's authoritarian expansionist ambitions extend beyond Taiwan and emphasized the need for democratic countries to stand united against such aggression. Taiwan, as a sovereign state, seeks equal dialogue and common ground to avoid conflicts. It is essential for democratic nations to join forces in defending the rules-based international order and ensuring a prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

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