UCA News


Beijing bans tours to Vatican amid strained ties

Directive telling state-owned tourism industry tells agents to strike city state off itineries, travel insiders say

Updated: November 27, 2017 06:04 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Beijing bans tours to Vatican amid strained ties

Beijing has issued a directive telling tour firms not to organize trips to the Vatican, employees at state-owned tour agencies say. (photo by Andreas Solaro/AFP)

Share this article :
The Chinese Communist Party has warned the state-controlled tourism industry not to send tour groups to the Vatican, amid growing diplomatic tensions between Beijing and the Holy See.

Travel agencies have been sent a directive ordering them to delete or cancel the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica from their list of destinations, Radio Free Asia reported an employee at Phoenix Holidays International Travel Agency in China as saying.

"Any travel agency found to be advertising these destinations in their promotional literature or other products will be fined up to 300,000 yuan [US$45,430]," the directive said.

The move is the first time Beijing has tried to stop its nationals from visiting the city state.

Relations between Communist China and the Holy See Ties have been strained ever since a Catholic priest was jailed for complicity in an alleged plot to assassinate then supreme leader Mao Zedong in 1950.

The Holy See also maintains diplomatic relations with the nationalists who fled to Taiwan after losing a bitter civil war in 1949. Ties have also been strained over the appointment and ordination of bishops in China.

"We can't do it any more, because we don't have diplomatic links with the Vatican," the Phoenix Holidays employee said. "All of this has been decided by the State Tourism Bureau."

"These are policies that have been handed down to us by the government."

An employee at the Chengdu branch of the same firm confirmed the directive.

"There won't be any [tours to the Vatican] from now on, because of the international situation," the employee said. "Travel agencies are no longer including them in itineraries."

Employees at other travel agencies confirmed they had received similar orders.

Chinese officials were unavailable for comment.


Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."