The ordination of five priests in China last week, against the Pope's wishes, can be construed as another blow by China's authorities against wider religious freedoms and another example of Beijing's determination to retain political control over religious organizations. Beijing has long denied the Pope's right as head of the Roman Church to appoint bishops and has gone about appointing them itself through the revealingly named Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
It seems like another version of the iron grip the Chinese government seeks to retain over Tibetan Buddhism which has its spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in exile, the Panchen Lama, next in the hierarchy, either in prison or dead, while a fake Panchen, chosen by and a tool of the Chinese Communist Party, sits in his place, and now the Karmapa Lama, third in the hierarchy, has fled into exile in India as a result of China's determination to repress Tibetan religious life. And of course last year also saw the repression of the Falun Gong sect, a group largely composed of middle-aged men and women who derive spiritual and physical benefit from a certain form of calisthenics. Beijing's reaction to the Falun Gong has been extraordinary even by that government's usual contemptible standards.
But last week's ordination ceremony is of greater significance to Taiwan than merely reminding Taiwanese of the kind of regime that is run from Beijing and bolstering their resolve not to be any part of it. For China's action is as much about the Vatican's recognition of Taiwan as it is about keeping a lid on the Catholic Church in China.
That Catholic bishops in China are appointed, in the last analysis by the Chinese government, must matter to anyone who takes their faith seriously. Since the bishops are not appointed by the Pope, the link from God to congregation is broken. The bishops cannot validly ordain priests and the priests they do ordain cannot validly say Mass, give the sacrament, hear confessions, give absolution or perform any other rite of the church.
Taiwan enters into this problem because China will not let the Vatican appoint bishops while it retains diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The Vatican has said that it was willing to transfer its China nunciature from Taipei to Beijing but would not cease to recognize Taiwan. Since this would in effect create dual recognition, it is out of the question for "one China"-obsessed Beijing.
What has been frequently called a "warming of relations" between Beijing and the Vatican has been misnamed. Rather it is that the Vatican has been coerced into negotiations with Beijing as a result of Beijing's calculated brutality towards Chinese Catholics. Throughout last year Beijing conducted a campaign to force Catholic congregations to register with the government's Bureau of Religious Affairs, which according to the group Human Rights Watch was marked by detentions, disappearances, ill-treatment, fines, and harassment. Clergy were arrested in Zhejiang and Father Yan Weiping, from Hebei, was found dead on a Beijing street on May 13 after being detained earlier that day while saying Mass. The ordinations are just another way of showing that China can do what it likes.
The message to the Vatican is clear. Beijing is not interested in negotiation. It simply wants its way and will treat Catholics in as rough a way as it pleases until the Vatican gives it what it wants.
There is little that Taiwan can do to influence the outcome of this power ploy. The Vatican will either give ground to ease the pressure on Catholics in China or it will not. Perhaps the most valuable lesson Taiwan can learn from this, given US pressure for more cross-strait negotiation is to take note of Beijing's negotiation style and prepare itself accordingly.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
Burger King Taiwan on Wednesday last week posted an update on Facebook advertising a new “Wuhan pneumonia” (武漢肺炎) home delivery meal, catering to customers hankering for a Whopper, but who wished to avoid visiting one of its outlets. “Wuhan pneumonia” is the term commonly used in Taiwan to describe COVID-19. Beijing has been waging an extensive propaganda campaign against the use of the words “Wuhan” or “China” in reference to the novel coronavirus, calling it racist and discriminatory. Meanwhile, Chinese officials have claimed that the coronavirus might have originated in the US. The intention is obvious: to distract attention from the Chinese Communist
Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force Shaanxi KJ-500 airborne early-warning aircraft and Shenyang J-11 fighters on March 16 conducted a nighttime exercise in the waters southwest of Taiwan and, in doing so, came close to the nation’s air defense identification zone. Three days later, the PLA Navy’s fleet for Gulf of Aden escort mission sailed north in the Pacific off Taiwan’s east coast via the Miyako Strait on its way home. Meanwhile, the US carried out freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and assembled the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group with the Expeditionary Strike Group to conduct