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(AFX) – Hong Kong’s Catholic leader Bishop Joseph Zen said that he still expects difficulties in mending ties between the Vatican and China due to a lack of religious freedom in the country. Speaking at a luncheon, the Shanghai-born bishop reiterated that the Holy See is ready to switch diplomatic ties to China from Taiwan . But China ‘s tight control on churches and the lack of religious freedom have made it difficult to improve relations. ‘Even official churches there were under persecution because they have no freedom there,’ said Zen, who heads the only Roman Catholic church on Chinese soil and acts as a conduit into China . Zen said it is time for Beijing to make ‘some compromises’. ‘In recent years, Beijing didn’t show any interest (in mending ties) while the Holy See has made some efforts,’ Zen said. Relations between China and the Vatican have been strained ever since China expelled the Vatican ‘s ambassador in 1951, a move that was followed by the severance of diplomatic ties.