The Chinese government’s discontent at the naming of the bishop of Hong Kong to the College of Cardinals was finally made manifest this Tuesday as the country’s Foreign Affairs minister, Li Zhaoxing said, "We hope the Vatican will not maintain a so-called diplomatic relations with a province or a locality of China.”
China hopes the Vatican will not intervene in its internal affairs in any form,” said the foreign minister during a press conference.
The discontent over the naming of Cardinal-designate Joseph Zen, who is an open critic of the anti-religious policies of China, was also exposed in a piece by the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, which referred to Cardinal Zen as “a person from Hong Kong.”
Hong and China follow the so-called “one country, two systems” model in religious affairs, which allows Pope Benedict XVI to name bishops or cardinals for Hong Kong, but not for China.
China has insisted that the Vatican withdraw recognition of Taiwan as a condition for the establishing of diplomatic relations and that the Holy See “commits itself to not intervening in Chinese internal affairs,” which for Beijing means renouncing to the right to name bishops.
The outspoken archbishop of Hong Kong told the BBC, “I am more than 70 years old; there are some things difficult to change”—a clear reference to his criticisms of the Chinese government. “I think we all have the right to get involved in the social issues of our societies. Since we are also members of the general public, when we have opinions on any subject, we should be allowed to express them,” he said.