Relations between the Holy See and the PRC have been strained over various issues, especially the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) policy of restricting religious activities and the appointment of Catholic bishops in mainland China. There have been attempts to improve China-Holy See relations, with an agreement signed in September 2018 between the PRC and the Holy See allowing the pope to appoint and veto bishops approved by the CCP. The agreement was renewed for another two years in October 2020.[1] However, in 2022, the Vatican has accused the government for violating the terms of the agreement with the appointment of a diocese not recognised by the Holy See.


Aside perhaps making the Holy See end its recognition of Taiwan, does China have anything else to gain from improving ties with the Holy See, because to me it seems that China is only willing to return them a favor if they decide to end their recognition of Taiwan as a country. So I am wondering if there's more at play here, or I am guessing correctly.

The agreement reflects the long-standing desire of the Chinese government to end the Holy See's recognition of the government in Taiwan, even as the Chinese Communist Party of General Secretary Xi Jinping continues the campaign, launched in the spring of 2018, to increase control of foreign religious institutions.[32][dubious – discuss] In October 2018, local Chinese government officials destroyed two Marian shrines, one in Shanxi and one in Guizhou.[33]

  • 2
    Soft power? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_power#China and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_power_of_China
    – user43134
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 23:00
  • 14
    The conventional wisdom among foreign service officers and foreign policy experts is that you always want to improve your relations with everyone absent a very good reason to the contrary, because you never know when you might need to work with them on some unforeseen future issue. This question seems to flip this presumption on its head and assume that a country wants a hostile lack of any relationship unless proven otherwise.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 23:28

1 Answer 1



What does China have to gain from improving its relationship with the Holy See?

I think you have that backwards. China is not pursuing better relations with the Holy See, The Holy See is seeking better relations with the CCP through one sided concessions. China has been conducting arrests, tortures, and even genocides against their major religious groups for decades. That behavior is ongoing today. Non of the six major Chinese religion groups have escaped some aspect of this crackdown. Fulon Gong, Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, Taoism and Catholism have all been targeted.

The Holy See has accepted Communist Party appointed Priests and Bishops. They've even accepted Communist Party edits to the Bible and Communist Party written homilies. The Chinese objective is a gradual merger of the Underground Catholic Church into the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) dominated by the CCP. The Holy See hopes the estimated 97 million Chinese Christians which now outnumber members of the CCP itself will escape some of the harsher treatments visited upon the other Muslim Uyghurs and Falun Gong.

  • involuntary harvesting of organs
  • forced labor
  • sterilization
  • internment by the millions.

Catholism has so far escaped whole scale genocide in China, but their members are still being targeted. It is estimated that 20 to 50 million Chinese Christians have experienced persecution in recent years.

U.S. State Dept.

The CCP is among the worst violators of religious freedom in the world and it continues to show blatant disregard for religious freedom and exercises extreme hostility to members of all religious faiths, including Protestants, Catholics, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and Falun Gong. The CCP’s campaign of repression against Uyghur Muslims and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang continues to escalate. More than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority Muslim groups have been arbitrarily detained in internment camps since April 2017. In practice, the CCP targets everyday expression of Islamic belief such as owning a Quran, praying, avoiding alcohol or tobacco, fasting during Ramadan, as well as secular aspects of non-Chinese culture such as Uyghur language and Uyghur music.

  • This answer could be improved by using reliable sources. The unreliable sources should be removed. Gallagher.house.gov uses Faux News as a source.
    – user43134
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 2:32

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