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Taiwan president briefs pope about exchange
Ma Ying-jeou says he promoted ties with mainland China in the hope of bringing peaceTaiwan President Ma Ying-jeou (fourth from left) joined other Catholic leaders in the closing celebration of the 150th anniversary for Catholicism in Taiwan in 2009
- ucanews.com reporter, Taipei
- January 28, 2011
â€śI have actively promoted economic and cultural ties between Taiwan and mainland China in the hope of bringing about cross-strait peace and prosperity,â€ť Ma wrote in his open letter.
Religious ties between the two sides become closer, with many priests from mainland China visiting Taiwan, he noted.
In less than six months since last September, the Catholic Church and other religions in Taiwan have received two high-level religious delegations from mainland China, including one led by Wang Zuoâ€™an, director of the state administration for religious affairs.
Ma also said he shared the popeâ€™s view that when religious freedom is acknowledged, human dignity is â€śrespected at its rootâ€ť and reaffirmed Taiwanâ€™s determination to promote universal values such as democracy, human rights and religious freedom as it marks its centenary.
His other past efforts include ratifying the international covenants on civil and political rights and on economic, social and cultural rights in 2009, and incorporating them into domestic laws.
Last December, a committee was set up to advice the government on policies formulation and to submit human rights reports, aiming to bring Taiwan up to international standards.
President Ma, a Catholic who no longer practises his faith, believes people in Taiwan â€śdo enjoy, and indeed uphold, religious freedomâ€ť and respect different cultures as it has been an integral part of Chinese traditions since ancient times.
This is evidenced by a number of historic landmarks, he said, citing a Confucius temple in southern Taiwan that was built in 1686, next to which is a stone tablet inscribed with an imperial edict ordering every passing official, soldier and civilian to dismount from their horses as a tribute.
In the 19th century, Catholics built the Immaculate Conception Minor Basilica some 30 kilometers away and Qing Emperor Tongzhi also ordered inscribing the same â€śimperial edictâ€ť next to it.
â€śThis example perfectly encapsulates the fact that Taiwan has a long history of giving equal respect to both Catholicism and Confucianism,â€ť the president said.
The Vatican is currently Taiwanâ€™s sole diplomatic partner in Europe.Â Taiwan presidents in the past also responded to the popeâ€™s peace messages.
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