(Agence France-Press) - Rome, April 25, 1999 - Hong Kong's auxiliary bishop, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, reproached the Vatican for being "too optimistic" about mainland China, in an interview published in the Corriere della Sera Sunday.
"I am convinced that normalization of relations (between the Vatican and Bejing) must happen, but I do not appreciate the remarks made by the Vatican's cardinal secretary of state, Angelo Sodano," he told the daily.
Sodano said in February that the Vatican was ready to transfer its embassy from Taipei to Bejing "not tomorrow but this evening if the Chinese authorities permitted."
Bejing has said it will only open a dialogue with the Vatican if the Roman Catholic mini-state breaks it diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which mainland China sees as a part of its territory.
"These remarks make a very bad impression with our brothers in Taiwan," said Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, who said the issue should not be hurried and stressed the need for greater diplomatic efforts.
He said democracy had taken "a step back" in Hong Kong since the former British colony was handed over to mainland China in July 1997.
"The role of deputies elected by the people has been reduced and there is an intrusion of political authority in the justice sector," he said.
He added: "The colonial regime was not democratic, but it respected numerous freedoms... the truth must be told, because it is truth that liberates us."
(From The China Post, Monday 26, 1999)