Dharamsala: An agreement has been made between China and the Vatican in late September this year, concerning the appointment of Catholic bishops to mainland China. The main idea of the agreement is said to promote mutual understanding between China’s two Catholic fractions, but the agreement shows signs of concern especially in light of the Vatican’s hopefulness.
The Vatican has high hopes of collaboration with China, however, concerning the matter China has a poor track record in human rights and has always contradicted their own law. A well-known fact to this case is “17-Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” signed on 23 May 1951, stating “the central government will not change the current political system in Tibet and the inherent status and authority of the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan officials at all levels serve as usual.”
It also includes: “respect the religious beliefs and customs of the Tibetan people and protect the Lama Temple.”
As a matter of the fact, China has miserably failed to implement its own law and what happened in Tibet is a proof that can’t be removed. The Chinese army invaded in Lhasa and had caused many destructions which led His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people into exile in India.
In the case of Tibet, China has also formed the “Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law” correlating to Tibet, which emphasises on ethnic minorities the right to self-administration. But China has ruled out its own law, putting in action a series of repressive policies which led to widespread resistance in Tibet. 152 Tibetans inside Tibet self-immolated in protest of these failed policies.
The situation of Tibet and the Vatican’s are not correlated in many grounds, however, China’s religions policy in Tibet and its drastic change is something the Vatican must be aware of. Although the agreement is all about political expediency for the Chinese government and the latest agreement will be down once they meet up with their aim, the Vatican believe that the agreement will bring the favourable result as it will compel China to accept the pope as the leader of the Chinese Catholic church. Since the Chinese Communist regime took power, the practice of religion has seen a severe clampdown.
And yet the Vatican is hoping for an optimistic result from China. As the Chinese government severely suppresses all religions, it is difficult to believe that China will treat Catholic communities and its believers well.
Over the past years, people believed that the Vatican’s contacts with the Chinese government will bring some changes in the situation of Chinese Catholic and that will lead towards the improvement in the policies of all the religions. It is yet another confirmation that the China government is always failed to implement their own law, the Vatican should be cautious. The hope for Xi Jinping to treat and respect religious matter is more like a dream.
“No matter how much the Catholic Church earns in this matter, it will be lost in the end.” Kung Lap Yan, associate professor of the Divinity School at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
-Filed by Tenzin Samdup, Intern, Tibet.net