Shortening the term from the previous two-year agreement is likely to telegraph the Vatican's need for progress now, and to force an end to the nominations roadblock the first deal was meant to address.
For its part, Beijing will likely look to give away as little as possible and continue its proven negotiating tactic of deferring any direct requests. Those close to the negotiations suggest that the status quo is already a "win" for China.
One senior cleric on the mainland told CNA that, two years after the agreement was signed, he sees no visible benefit.
"The 2018 deal was supposed to create one Church in China in communion with Rome. What it did was flush out great numbers of underground Catholics for the state to snatch up. What they have is one Church in communion with Beijing."
The cleric, who asked not to be named, citing concerns over government retaliation, said that the communist priority remains bringing the Church under total state control, which Xi Jinping's own remarks have also intimated.
"It must be understood that, to the Party, the Church is an existential threat - it is an ideological competitor with its own organizational structure and hierarchy. Sinicization is nothing to do with cultural harmony and everything to do with co-opting the Church and sanitizing it into an agent of the state."
Throughout the last two years, local authorities have carried out programs of church demolitions, ever-tighter monitoring of religious services, and even offered bounties for information on underground worshippers.
"Local Catholics see their priests and bishops harassed, or forced to knuckle under to the Communist Party, and not a word of support or encouragement from Rome. The situation is its own catechesis on the nature of the Church."
If the situation in China suits the Communist Party's interests over the Church there, prolonging dialogue at the expense of the Vatican's ability to speak publicly about the worsening situation may be equally to its benefit.
Although Beijing is known to have longer-term diplomatic aims with the Vatican, most crucially the de-recognition of Taiwan, the impression is that, for the time being, keeping the Vatican at the table is an end in itself, not a means.
As the negotiations continue, China remains the subject of growing international outrage over its genocidal treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, where more than a million remain in concentration camps. Yet despite the growing clamor from the community of nations, the Vatican – and crucially Pope Francis – have remained completely silent.
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In Hong Kong, after a year of democratic protests paralyzed parts of the city and successfully defeated a controversial extradition bill, the mainland government has imposed a sweeping new National Security Law, arresting journalists and pro-democracy advocates - many of them Catholics - on charges of sedition.
But while cardinals in the region, like Cardinal Charles Maung Bo and Cardinal Joseph Zen, have been outspoken in their opposition to China's rolling tally of human rights abuses, and have inspired action among Catholics in Hong Kong, the diocese's interim leader, Cardinal John Tong Hon, has insisted that the law will have no effect on the Church's freedom, and has warned Catholic schools, organizations, and clergy to steer clear of politics, while offering reassurance and promoting patriotic values among the faithful.
Absent moral leadership from Pope Francis, China may well calculate that local pressure will be enough to bring the Church in Hong Kong in line.
Meanwhile, as the Church in China remains a diplomatic pawn in negotiations, actual Chinese Catholics continue to suffer under an increasingly zealous persecution.
Looking past the near-certain September announcement of a renewal for the Vatican-China deal, the more pressing question may be when, if ever, Rome will decide that the moral cost of its silence outweighs any possible diplomatic advance.
If asked, Cardinals Zen and Bo would likely have something to say about that.