New Hong Kong cardinal says pope could visit Taiwan
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Hong Kong's new cardinal said Thursday that if the Vatican switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China, the pope might be able to visit both places.

Joseph Zen, appointed cardinal last week, also said that the Taiwanese would understand if the Vatican decided to break off official relations and recognize China _ Taiwan's biggest rival.

''If there is a guarantee after the normalization of relations and the Catholic church is given freedom (in China), the government and people of Taiwan would accept the decision of the holy father,'' he said.

The cardinal said China and the Vatican are discussing forging new ties, but he was uncertain when they'll have an agreement.

If the Vatican cut ties with Taiwan, it would be a big blow to the island.TheVatican is Taiwan's only diplomatic ally in Europe.
The island's other partners are mostly impoverished African, Latin American and Caribbean nations.

China has been aggressively luring away Taiwan's allies in recent years. Beijing insists the island is part of Chinese territory and shouldn't have diplomatic relations with other countries. The two sides split amid civil war in 1949.

When a country shifts its formal recognition to China, Beijing usually insists that the nation's leaders and high-ranking officials avoid visiting Taiwan.

Zen said Thursday that the pope might be treated differently because he's a religious leader, not a politician.

2006/03/30 오후 6:54
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