Pope Francis on Jan. 23 welcomed to the Vatican the new ambassador of Taiwan, Matthew S.M. Lee.
At a formal ceremony, Lee presented the pope his credentials at the start of his diplomatic mission with the Holy See, Vatican Radio reported.
The Holy See maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China, which mainland China, officially known as the People’s Republic of China regards as its renegade territory.
In 1951, China, which is officially an atheist state, expelled foreign missionaries, severed diplomatic relations with the Holy See and by 1957 set up its own church — the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association — in defiance of the Rome-based Catholic Church headed by the pope.
But the Holy See continued to recognize Taipei as the legitimate Chinese government. One of the conditions set by Beijing in re-establishing diplomatic ties with the Holy See is that the Vatican sever ties with Taiwan.
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