Retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong said that allowing the Chinese state to appoint bishops instead of the pope would "mean surrender."
"To officially let [the Chinese government] manage the church? That would mean surrender," Cardinal Zen told Apple Daily, reported Hong Kong Free Press.
"Once the relationship has been established, what then? When the pope visits China, and the [central government] selects only the obedient people to meet the pope, what then for those belonging to the underground churches?" said Cardinal Zen.
Cardinal Zen added that he would agree on a system of selecting bishops like that done as done in communist Vietnam.
"I support the method of letting the Vietnamese bishop and the Catholic Church select [their candidates] and then letting the government approve the decision, because … their bishop is truly one of our people — their conference of bishops is legitimate," said the cardinal.
"China's conference of bishops is practically non-existent — it is completely under the government's control — how can we let them pick?"
Cardinal Zen's comments come at a time when China and the Vatican are ready for another round of negotiations over the appointment of bishops in the country.