Chinese Attendance at Vatican Organ Conference Seen as a Good Sign

By Mei Manuel, March 13, 2018 03:03 AM


A former senior Chinese official stated that China's attendance at a Vatican conference this week is a sign that Chinese-Vatican relations are slowly improving and it would trigger the beginning of steady relations in other fronts.

On Sunday, the state media reported that Chinese academics are scheduled to join the Vatican conference on combatting organ trafficking on Monday and Tuesday for the second year in a row. According to the report of the Global Times, the Chinese contingent would be presenting its efforts in combatting organ trafficking in China and its progress on organ donations and transplants in the conference.

According to former Chinese vice-minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee Huang Jiefu in his statement quoted by Global Times, "Relations between Beijing and the Vatican authorities are moving forward. So are relations between the two peoples."

Huang, who attended the conference last year, also said "The exchanges are beneficial to world peace and are also beneficial to peoples from the two sides. It also creates good momentum to expand contact beyond the health sector to cultural and other areas."

On the country's first attendance to the conference last year, the Chinese government played down the significance of the attendance of the Chinese contingent and said it "probably" does not have anything to do in improving their relation. 

The topic of organ trafficking is a sensitive issue in China for years and it has continuously denied accusations that they have taken organs from executed prisoners without permission. It even banned the use of organs from executed prisoners in 2015.

China and the Vatican do not officially have diplomatic relations with one another due to a variety of issues in contention by both parties and since foreign missionaries were expelled from China after the Communists took over in 1949. China does not recognize the authority of the Pope, whom it sees as a head of state, and adds he does not have any right to meddle in China's affairs, such as the selection of bishops in the country. Due to this disagreement, China's 12 million Catholics are split into two groups: those who support the Pope and those who support the state-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association.

Aside from the issue of bishop selection, the Vatican has official ties with Taiwan, which China sees as a province.

However, both parties have been into negotiations for the past couple of years in an attempt to improve relations. Last week, some headway regarding the appointment of bishops - one of the major issues between the two parties - has been reached according to the deputy head of the official Chinese Catholics association in a statement.



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