China Not the “Land of Wonders” as Suggested by Vatican Official

ICC Note: As the Holy See moves to restore diplomatic relations with China, recent comments made by a Vatican official calling China as the “Land of Wonders” after his visit to the country came under criticism. The editor-in-chief of AsiaNews Father Bernardo Cervellera points out the countless human rights violations committed by Beijing including erosion of religious freedom to depict the real picture of China for Msgr. Sanchez Sorondo, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences.

02/07/2018 China (Asia News) – When my friends tell me they are going to China, I always advise them not to stop at the shopping centers, the ultra-luxury hotels and the skyscrapers, but also to go to out to the peripheries to get a better picture of real China. Since the economic disaster into which it had sunk after Mao’s death, the country has certainly made great strides, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, modernizing industries and becoming an economic superpower that now overshadows the United States.

But from here to presenting China as the “Land of Wonders” is a bit too far. In his interview following his recent trip to Beijing, Msgr. Sanchez Sorondo describes a China that does not exist or that vigilant Chinese escorts did not show him.

“There are no shantytowns”, proclaims Msgr. Sanchez Sorondo. Did our bishop try to go to the south of the capital, where for months the city government has been destroying buildings and houses and driving away tens of thousands of migrant workers? Not to mention the suburbs of Shanghai or other Chinese megalopolis, where a “cleansing” is underway and a ban on the “low-end” and defenceless population?

The bishop, who is President of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences, even states that the Chinese are “the best implementers of the Churches’ social doctrine”. But perhaps he is not referring to these mass expulsions, which are very similar to a fruit of the “culture of waste” so highly criticized by Pope Francis.

“No drugs”, says the bishop: but did he go to Chinese prisons, filled with drug dealers and drug addicts, many facing the death sentence? And in Shenzhen, which is also the drug hub for Hong Kong?

Not to mention religious freedom in China. Religious freedom should be a pillar of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. We should perhaps propose the bishop read the daily news tracking violence, arrests of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, abuses on domestic churches, checks on official churches. The same rough road of dialogue between China and the Vatican shows the difficulty with which Beijing is reluctant to swallow drops of religious freedom for Catholics.

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