China warns Cardinal Zen not to mix politics with religion | india | Hindustan Times
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China warns Cardinal Zen not to mix politics with religion

China has warned outspoken Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen not to mix politics and religion, after Pope Benedict XVI named him a cardinal.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2006 15:44 IST

China on Thursday warned the outspoken Bioshop of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen, not to mix politics and religion, after Pope Benedict XVI named him a cardinal.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that the appointment has not changed Beijing's position on refraining from establishing diplomatic ties with Rome.

"We have taken note that Joseph Zen was appointed as a cardinal by the Vatican," Liu said. "We advocate that religious figures should not interfere with politics, " he added.

Liu also expressed hopes that the appointment would not disrupt social stability in Hong Kong. "We hope that all communities in Hong Kong can maintain social stability and the harmony and development of Hong Kong," he said.

The outspoken Zen, who on Wednesday became the sixth Chinese in history to be named a cardinal, said he hoped his appointment could help end the 55-year dispute between the Vatican and China.

Zen has long been a fierce critic of the Chinese government and has often joined in pro-democracy protests in the territory.

The Chinese government has repeatedly said it is willing to improve relations with the Vatican only if it breaks off ties with Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province.

Another condition imposed by Beijing is for the Vatican not to interfere in China's internal affairs, in reference to how the government controls religion.

"We have repeated our position on relations with the Vatican many times," Liu said. "There is no change in our position," he added.

Liu refused to comment on whether Zen's appointment would help China in eventually normalizing relations with the Vatican.