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Commissioner reiterates China's stance on Sino-Vatican ties.

HONG KONG, May 10 Kyodo

China's foreign affairs envoy in Hong Kong reiterated Wednesday China's stance on restoring diplomatic ties with the Vatican while urging the city's Roman Catholic church leader to help convey the message to Pope Benedict XVI.

Lu Xinhua, who assumed the post at Hong Kong's Foreign Affairs Commission two months ago, met with the press in his first media reception. He said he has yet to meet with Cardinal Joseph Zen, but he has some messages for Zen to convey to the Vatican.

''There have been smooth exchanges between China and the Vatican during contacts in the past few years,'' Lu said. ''We have three suggestions for Mr. Zen. First, he should correctly understand the central government's position as to establish diplomatic ties with the Vatican.''

''Secondly, he should unmistakably convey the message to the Vatican side. Thirdly, I hope he can convince the Vatican side to accept China's principles,'' Lu said.

China has listed two preconditions for negotiation -- the Vatican to endorse the one-China policy and not to interfere with China's internal affairs.

The Vatican expressed earlier this year that it may cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but it has strongly condemned China's state-sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association for facilitating recent ordinations of two bishops without papal approval.

Despite the church's canon stipulating automatic excommunication for the bishops and priests involved in the ordinations, the Vatican has yet to announce the penalty, saying more information on the installation is needed.

The association, however, insisted on consecrating more bishops in China with or without the Vatican's blessing, suggesting China has the right to choose and install their own bishops.

''Since the foundation of (China), we have selected and ordained our bishops on our own, this is one difference that we have with the Vatican side. But...of course, we will refer to all kinds of possibilities when we are processing with the negotiation,'' Lu said.

He declined to predict a timetable restoration of ties.

Zen said last week that dialogue between the Vatican and China could stall after the two unapproved bishop ordinations and he urged China not to make independent bishop ordinations in the future.

The Vatican cut ties with China shortly after Communists took power in 1949.

Millions of Catholics were divided into two groups, one going to state-sanctioned churches and another going to underground churches.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:May 15, 2006
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