China watchers usually argue that the international community's willingness to look the other way on China's abysmal human rights record is the result of selfish business interests. Human nature being what it is, that rationalization generally holds water.
The Vatican's persistent wooing of Beijing, on the other hand, poses a mystery. After all, it does not own factories in China, nor, for all we know, does it have any financial investments there. Given that the lure of business -- or, in practice, financial blackmail -- do not apply to the Vatican's relations with Beijing, the Pontiff and his subordinates would appear to be free to act toward China as they see fit.
But except for occasional criticism -- mostly by Cardinal Joseph Zen (
There is no doubt, however, that if any of the three bishops had not been in Beijing's good graces, bishophood would have remained an elusive dream. This is par for the course with a central government that continues to meddle in religion, as prominently displayed in Beijing's treatment of Tibetan Lamas and the evisceration of religious tradition in Tibet proper.
Surely the Vatican is aware of this, as repression of religious groups -- Muslims and Falun Gong specifically -- has received no small amount of publicity.
So what happened? How could the Vatican choose to deal with Beijing and, above all, do so without a concomitant and sustained criticism of the regime's record on human rights, religious or otherwise?
The answer, inauspicious as it may be to say on Christmas Day, is that the Vatican is on its way to making a deal with the devil. Rather than harvesting financial gain the way countries and multinationals do, however, what it covets are the souls of millions of Chinese.
In doing so, the Vatican is continuing the long, ignoble tradition of a political message that sees humanity in zero-sum terms -- the more souls the better, regardless of local customs in foreign lands or the devastating consequences of their actions.
In return, what Beijing seeks most is neither the salvation of Chinese souls nor more religious freedom for its people. What it wants is diplomatic recognition from the Vatican at the expense of Taiwan.
Left unchecked, the Vatican's missionary zeal could very well mean that, just as happens with countries that deal with China regardless of the poor human rights conditions there, morality will be crucified for the attainment of a quantifiable objective.
Money, souls -- Beijing exploits both as goods that can be traded for the achievement of its political objectives.
If the Vatican hopes that by engaging Beijing it will be able to influence its behavior, it is in for a rude awakening. For in the end, the more it engages China without setting and enforcing human rights policies, the more complicit it becomes in the repression of Chinese.
And it would be pure delusion to think that Chinese Catholics would be spared.
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Forward Forum in Taipei, former Singaporean minister for foreign affairs George Yeo (楊榮文) proposed a “Chinese commonwealth” as a potential framework for political integration between Taiwan and China. Yeo said the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait is unsustainable and that Taiwan should not be “a piece on the chessboard” in a geopolitical game between China and the US. Yeo’s remark is nothing but an ill-intentioned political maneuver that is made by all pro-China politicians in Singapore. Since when does a Southeast Asian nation have the right to stick its nose in where it is not wanted
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has released a plan to economically integrate China’s Fujian Province with Taiwan’s Kinmen County, outlining a cross-strait development project based on six major themes and 21 measures. This official document by the CCP is directed toward Taiwan’s three outlying island counties: Penghu County, Lienchiang County (Matsu) and Kinmen County. The plan sets out to construct a cohabiting sphere between Kinmen and the nearby Chinese city of Xiamen, as well as between Matsu and Fuzhou. It also aims to bring together Minnanese cultural areas including Taiwan’s Penghu and China’s cities of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou for further integrated
During a recent visit to Taiwan, I encountered repeated questions about “America skepticism” among the body politic. The basic premise of the “America skepticism” theory is that Taiwan people should view the United States as an unreliable, self-interested actor who is using Taiwan for its own purposes. According to this theory, America will abandon Taiwan when its interests are advanced by doing so. At one level, such skepticism is a sign of a healthy, well-functioning democratic society that protects the right for vigorous political debate. Indeed, around the world, the people of Taiwan are far from alone in debating America’s reliability
As China’s economy was meant to drive global economic growth this year, its dramatic slowdown is sounding alarm bells across the world, with economists and experts criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for his unwillingness or inability to respond to the nation’s myriad mounting crises. The Wall Street Journal reported that investors have been calling on Beijing to take bolder steps to boost output — especially by promoting consumer spending — but Xi has deep-rooted philosophical objections to Western-style consumption-driven growth, seeing it as wasteful and at odds with his goal of making China a world-leading industrial and technological powerhouse, and