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Premier dismisses claims of China, Vatican to establish ties

2018/03/09 14:37:18

Lai Ching-te (賴清德)

Taipei, March 9 (CNA) Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) argued Friday that a possible breakthrough deal between China and the Holy See on bishop appointments does not mean that the two countries are close to establishing diplomatic ties, in an attempt to dispel rumors that Taiwan might lose another diplomatic ally.

During an interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan, Lai was pressed about the state of Taiwan's diplomatic relations with the Vatican, the country's only ally in Europe, which many media reports have indicated is becoming increasingly uncertain as China gets closer to signing a deal with the Vatican on how to appoint bishops.

The framework accord, which is likely to be signed at the end of March or the beginning of April, could open the way for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and China, according to a Reuters report in February.

The premier, however, said that there is still a long way to go between signing a deal on appointing bishops and establishing diplomatic ties.

Nonetheless, Lai said that the government is keeping a close watch on the matter through its embassy and other networks, and will do everything it can to defend its diplomatic relations.

The premier's response came a day after China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) urged Taiwan's allies to abandon the country and switch to recognizing Beijing.

"Establishing diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, the only legal representative of the entire Chinese people, and having normal cooperation, is obviously the correct choice that conforms to the times," a Reuters report quoted Wang as saying.

Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, said in response that Taiwan is a sovereign country with the right to establish diplomatic ties with any country in the world.

(By Kuan-lin Liu and Chen Chun-hua)