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Taiwan said Thursday that a historic agreement between China and the Vatican was likely to be imminent, but remained hopeful the move would not result in it losing its only diplomatic ally in Europe.
The foreign ministry said it had obtained information from “various sources” that an agreement between the Vatican and China on “religious affairs” was most likely to be signed in September or October.
Speculation - Vatican - Agreement - China - Bloc
Speculation has been rife that the Vatican is moving closer to an agreement with China over the major stumbling bloc of who ordains bishops.
A delivery man rides his bike in front a Catholic church in Duolun street in Shanghai on September 11, 2016. Photo: AFP/Fred Dufour.
Fears - Taiwan - Ties - Vatican - Risk
But there are fears that would put Taiwan’s official ties with the Vatican at risk, as Beijing makes a concerted effort to poach its allies.
The Vatican is one of only 17 countries around the world that recognises Taipei instead of Beijing, but Pope Francis has sought to improve ties with China since he took office in 2013.
China - Taiwan - Part - Territory - Demands
China still sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and demands that allies of Beijing must give up any official ties with the island.
Taiwan, which has around 300,000 Catholics, has lost five allies to Beijing in the past two years.
Taiwan - Ministry - Spokesman - Andrew - Lee
Taiwan’s foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee said the government would “not take lightly” any agreement between the two sides.
But asked whether the Vatican had given Taiwan any assurances that it would not sever...
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