中广新闻报道，中共「中国日报」引述国家宗教事务局长「叶小文」的话说，如果达赖喇嘛清楚表明，扬弃追求西藏独立，北京当局会考虑让他前往中国访问。 (博讯 boxun.com)
China, Vatican in contact for restoring ties
Beijing and the Vatican have been in contact for normalizing relations but no date has been set for when it is likely to happen, China's top religious administrator said yesterday.
Ye Xiaowen, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, stressed that the Holy See must agree to China's two basic principles before diplomatic ties can be re-established.
"The contact between us has been continuing all along but it is hard to set a timetable," he told China Daily on the sidelines of a seminar at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.
It was the first time that China has directly commented on the sensitive issue since Pope John Paul II's successor Benedict XVI made establishing diplomatic ties with China one of his priorities.
On March 25, the Vatican's foreign minister Giovanni Lajolo said the "time is ripe" for the Holy See and Beijing to re-establish diplomatic ties, which were severed in 1951.
Ye, however, reiterated that it hinges on whether the Holy See accepts Beijing's two basic principles.
He was referring to Beijing's insistence that the Vatican break off ties with Taiwan and refrain from meddling in China's internal affairs.
"We can establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican very soon if the two principles are accepted," Ye said. "But it is very hard for us to do so if the two principles are violated."
The Vatican the only European country to recognize Taiwan has suggested some flexibility on switching diplomatic recognition from the island to China.
But one of the remaining stumbling blocks stems from the Vatican's demand to let the pope have supreme authority over the appointment of bishops in China, which Beijing views as interference in its internal affairs.
Ye insisted that China should have a say in appointing its own bishops.
"We have always been appointing and consecrating our own bishops," the director said. "This is what we must stick to."
The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, founded in 1957, does not recognize the authority of the pope and appoints its own bishops.
China has about 5 million Catholic believers and 6,000 churches.
Despite his insistence on the appointment of bishops, Ye did suggest some flexibility yesterday, saying the issue "may be open to consultation" but declined to elaborate.
His remarks can be seen as part of Beijing's active efforts to improve relations with the Vatican on the basis of the two basic principles.
Hopes that the two sides would end their impasse were raised with the election of Pope Benedict in April last year.
The Pope has expressed his wish to visit China in the next few years, according to earlier media reports.
No pope has ever visited the Chinese mainland.
Also yesterday, Ye said Beijing may consider approving the Dalai Lama's visit to China if he completely drops his pursuit of Tibetan "independence."
"As long as the Dalai Lama makes clear that he has completely abandoned Tibetan 'independence,' it is not impossible for us to consider his visit," he said. "We can discuss it."
The official expressed his suspicion of the Dalai Lama's earlier remarks that he is not fighting for "independence" of Tibet, saying the Dalai Lama "has failed to deliver a clear message on his stance."
The Dalai Lama, 70, said last month he wished to return on a pilgrimage and that his envoys had conveyed his request to Beijing in February. Source: China Daily
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