Taiwan president complains to Pope Francis about Chinese pressure

Presidential elections in Taiwan

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has written to Pope Francis to complain about Chinese pressure on the island Beijing claims as its own, saying China seeks to threaten its democracy and freedom.

The Vatican is one of just 15 countries that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan and the only one in Europe. But Taiwan has been concerned by the Vatican's moves to normalise ties with China, especially after a landmark 2018 pact on appointing bishops.

China, which believes Tsai wants formal independence for Taiwan, has heaped pressure on the president, who won re-election by a landslide this month on a platform of standing up to Beijing.

Tsai says Taiwan is an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name.

Taiwan hopes for a peaceful resolution of its differences with China, Tsai wrote in her letter, released by the presidential office on Tuesday, in response to a message from Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace on Jan. 1.

"However, at present dialogue across the Taiwan Strait is filled with difficulties," she wrote.

"The main sticking point is that China has so far been unwilling to let go of its desire to control Taiwan."

She added, "It continues to threaten Taiwan's democratic freedoms and human rights by threatening to use force against Taiwan, fake news, cyber attacks, and diplomatic means."

But despite China's "severe suppression", Taiwan is moving forward, cooperating with friendly and similar-minded countries, so that other democracies recognise it as the best partner for maintaining peace and stability, she added.

China's recent military operations and exercises in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding areas have caused regional unrest and increased international distrust of it, Tsai said.

China has stepped up military activities near Taiwan since Tsai first won office in 2016, flying bomber patrols around the island and sending its latest aircraft carrier, the Shandong, through the sensitive Taiwan Strait in the election run-up.

Beijing cut diplomatic ties with the Vatican in 1951 and remains concerned an independent church in China could threaten its authority.

The 2018 deal, in the making for more than 10 years, gives the Vatican a long-sought say in the choice of bishops in China, previously solely appointed by Communist authorities. Critics, particularly conservative Catholics, have labelled it a sellout.


(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

  • Pussycat Dolls ignore Ant and Dec's request to 'tone down' skit on Saturday Night Takeaway return
    News
    Evening Standard

    Pussycat Dolls ignore Ant and Dec's request to 'tone down' skit on Saturday Night Takeaway return

    Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly were forced to ask the Pussycat Dolls to "tone down" their risque style during their skit for "family friendly" Saturday Night Takeaway as the show returned after a two year break.The programme last aired in 2018 and a new series has not been broadcast since Ant was arrested for drink driving in March of that year.

  • Prince Andrew may not have been home on night he's accused of having sex with Virginia Giuffre, claims ex-officer
    News
    Evening Standard

    Prince Andrew may not have been home on night he's accused of having sex with Virginia Giuffre, claims ex-officer

    A former royal protection officer has claimed Prince Andrew may not have stayed at home on the night he is accused of having sex with teenage trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre.The officer said Andrew may have returned to Buckingham Palace in the early hours of March 11, when he said he was at home after taking his daughter to Woking's Pizza Express.

  • Four new UK cases of coronavirus detected in Diamond Princess passengers
    News
    The Telegraph

    Four new UK cases of coronavirus detected in Diamond Princess passengers

    Four new cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in England, bringing the total to 13, the Chief Medical Officer has announced. The patients had been passengers on the Diamond Princess Cruise ship which had been quarantined off the coast of Japan, Prof Chris Whitty said on Sunday. They had been quarantined at Arrowe Park hospital in Wirral, but will now being transferred to separate specialist NHS facilities. The patients returned to the UK on board a flight carrying 30 Britons and two Irish citizens, which landed at the Boscombe Down military base in Wiltshire on Saturday morning. The Department of Health and Social Care said a full infectious disease risk assessment had been carried out before the flight and that no one was allowed to board the flight if they displayed any symptoms of coronavirus. “Four further patients in England have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 13," said Prof Whitty. “The virus was passed on in the Diamond Princess cruise ship and the patients are being transferred from Arrowe Park to specialist NHS infection centres.” Any more passengers who test positive will immediately be taken into specialist NHS care, the department said. It added that "appropriate arrangements" are in place at Arrowe Park, including strict separation of passengers from staff and from each other. It is understood some British nationals who are part of the Diamond Princess crew opted to remain on the ship. Almost one-fifth of the 3,711 passengers originally on board the cruise liner have been infected. Japan's health ministry announced on Sunday that one of the passengers taken to hospital after testing positive for the virus has died. The death of the Japanese man aged in his eighties brings the number of fatalities from the Diamond Princess to three. Passengers 'very much in the dark' The British couple David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, who were on the cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary, are still in a Japanese hospital after being diagnosed with coronavirus and pneumonia. Relatives said the couple are both "having a really tough time" and feel "very much in the dark" in terms of treatment, adding that they are awaiting further tests. Speaking in a liveblog on Sunday, their daughter-in-law Roberta Abel said: "We want to get them discharged from the hospital and back to the UK as negative. "They are scared. They said to us today, 'If we get that virus again, we are not coming home'." Quarantined patients released The development comes as 118 people were released from a coronavirus quarantine centre in Milton Keynes. The group - who had been brought back to Britain earlier this month on a repatriation flight from Wuhan - spent 14 days at the Kents Hill Park training and conference centre. They were allowed to leave on Sunday, having all tested negative for the virus.

  • Greta Thunberg’s mother reveals teenager’s troubled childhood
    News
    The Guardian

    Greta Thunberg’s mother reveals teenager’s troubled childhood

    Greta Thunberg’s mother reveals teenager’s troubled childhoodSwedish opera singer Malena Ernman gives emotional account of daughter’s battles with autism and an eating disorder

  • Mel C says motherhood gave her strength to leave ex-partner
    News
    PA Media: Entertainment

    Mel C says motherhood gave her strength to leave ex-partner

    The Spice Girl opened up during an appearance on Desert Island Discs.

  • Home Office’s immigration boss quit ‘after run-ins with Priti Patel’
    News
    The Guardian

    Home Office’s immigration boss quit ‘after run-ins with Priti Patel’

    Home Office’s immigration boss quit ‘after run-ins with Priti Patel’Pressure grows on home secretary accused of bullying senior civil servants

  • Eddie Hearn promises Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua unification fight this year
    News
    Evening Standard

    Eddie Hearn promises Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua unification fight this year

    Eddie Hearn has promised to deliver Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua before the end of the year.Fury produced a masterful performance as he dominated Deontay Wilder to win the WBC heavyweight title.

  • Iain Stirling praises 'incredible' girlfriend Laura Whitmore ahead of her hosting first Love Island final
    News
    Evening Standard

    Iain Stirling praises 'incredible' girlfriend Laura Whitmore ahead of her hosting first Love Island final

    Iain Stirling has praised his “incredible” girlfriend Laura Whitmore as she prepares to host her first Love Island final.Stirling, who narrates the ITV2 show, also thanked the “amazing” contestants and crew in a post on Twitter.

  • UK weather forecast: Met Office issues snow and flood warnings as heavy rain continues to lash Britain
    News
    The Independent

    UK weather forecast: Met Office issues snow and flood warnings as heavy rain continues to lash Britain

    The Met Office has put more weather warnings in place for snow, rain and floods across Scotland, while Wales braces for more heavy rain following two weekends of relentless wet weather.A yellow weather warning for snow is in place across much of Scotland on Monday, from 6am till 9pm, with travel disruption likely to occur.

  • Neighbours releases first trailer for dramatic 35th anniversary week
    News
    Digital Spy

    Neighbours releases first trailer for dramatic 35th anniversary week

    "11 returning characters, five weddings, three deaths."

  • Tony Blair and the left’s perverse preference for failure over success
    News
    The Guardian

    Tony Blair and the left’s perverse preference for failure over success

    Tony Blair and the left’s perverse preference for failure over successEven after such a crushing defeat, the Labour party will do anything but take advice from its only living winner

  • Hamish Gaman confirms return to Dancing On Ice
    News
    PA Media: Entertainment

    Hamish Gaman confirms return to Dancing On Ice

    The pro skater pulled out of the programme after parting ways with Caprice Bourret.

  • Wayne Pivac: there were lots of big moments
    PA Media: Video

    Wayne Pivac: there were lots of big moments

    Wales post-match press conference with head coach Wayne Pivac and captain Alun Wyn Jones after 27-23 Guinness Six Nations defeat to France in Cardiff.

  • Boris Johnson is the ultimate purveyor of fake news
    News
    The Guardian

    Boris Johnson is the ultimate purveyor of fake news

    Boris Johnson is the ultimate purveyor of fake news. The ‘brilliant entertainer’, aware of the tricks of his old trade, is doing everything to avoid being subject to its wiles

  • Jeremy Clarkson throws open doors to his farm shop
    News
    PA Media: UK News

    Jeremy Clarkson throws open doors to his farm shop

    TV star sells potatoes to the public at grand opening of farm shop ahead of his new Amazon Prime series.

  • 'Mad Mike' Hughes death: US daredevil trying to prove Earth is flat is killed in homemade rocket crash
    News
    Evening Standard

    'Mad Mike' Hughes death: US daredevil trying to prove Earth is flat is killed in homemade rocket crash

    A daredevil trying to prove the Earth is flat has been killed in a homemade rocket crash in California.Michael Hughes - who went by the moniker “Mad Mike” - was attempting to launch his steam-powered rocket to an altitude of 5,000ft (1,525m) from a site in the desert north-west of Los Angeles but crashed 20 seconds after take-off.

  • France's Macron: unclear if EU-Britain to have trade deal by year-end
    News
    Reuters

    France's Macron: unclear if EU-Britain to have trade deal by year-end

    French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday cast doubt over the likelihood of the European Union and Britain reaching a post-Brexit trade deal by the end of the year, saying he expected fishing talks to be very tough. "It's going to be tense because they are very tough...Boris Johnson has a card in his hand and it is fishing and with that he will try to gain access to the market," Macron told representatives of the French fishing industry at a farm show in Paris.

  • England vs Ireland result: Irish Grand Slam dream ends as hosts deliver dominant victory
    News
    The Independent

    England vs Ireland result: Irish Grand Slam dream ends as hosts deliver dominant victory

    Follow the latest updates live from Twickenham as England take on Ireland with their Six Nations championship hopes on the line.Ireland arrive in London with two wins from two after seeing off Scotland and Wales, but face their toughest ask yet as they travel away from home for the first time to face an England side that got back to winning ways against Scotland last time out following the opening defeat against France – who are now favourites for the Six Nations title after their stunning win over Wales yesterday.

  • Millions of Chinese ordered back to work but infection risk remains high
    News
    The Guardian

    Millions of Chinese ordered back to work but infection risk remains high

    Millions of Chinese ordered back to work but infection risk remains highAuthorities are caught between an urgent need to restart the economy and the allowing the coronavirus to spread * Coronavirus outbreak – live updates

  • Clint Eastwood turns against Trump and backs Bloomberg for president
    News
    The Independent

    Clint Eastwood turns against Trump and backs Bloomberg for president

    Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood has thrown his support behind Mike Bloomberg in the race for the White House.He also thinks that Donald Trump should act “in a more genteel way, without tweeting and calling people names”, although he does admit that he supports “certain things that Trump has done”.

  • UK to reveal EU negotiating demands
    News
    PA Media: UK News

    UK to reveal EU negotiating demands

    The mandate is scheduled for publication on Thursday.

  • France stands by Greece over tensions in Aegean Sea - French defence min
    News
    Reuters

    France stands by Greece over tensions in Aegean Sea - French defence min

    France will stand by Greece and Cyprus, supporting both in their disputes with Turkey over maritime zones in the Mediterranean, French Defence Minister Florence Parly was quoted saying in a Greek newspaper on Sunday. Greece and Turkey are at odds over a host of issues ranging from mineral rights in the Aegean Sea to ethnically split Cyprus. Tensions are also running high because of Turkish drilling off Cyprus and the European Union has prepared sanctions against Turkey in response.

  • Brexit: UK reneging on Northern Ireland pledges risks trade deals with US and EU
    News
    The Guardian

    Brexit: UK reneging on Northern Ireland pledges risks trade deals with US and EU

    Brexit: UK reneging on Northern Ireland pledges risks trade deals with US and EUConcerns raised after reports negotiating team told to devise plans to ‘get around’ protocol in withdrawal agreement

  • Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion activists descend on Parliament Square to launch new climate strategy
    News
    Evening Standard

    Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion activists descend on Parliament Square to launch new climate strategy

    Grandparents and doctors were among hundreds of Extinction Rebellion campaigners who marched in London today to launch their new climate strategy.The group’s 2020 plan is to recruit one million “active” supporters in the UK and ensure 50% of the nation recognises the Climate & Ecological Emergency as their top priority.

  • Referendum must be ‘legal and legitimate’, says Sturgeon
    News
    PA Media: UK News

    Referendum must be ‘legal and legitimate’, says Sturgeon

    The First Minister said a court challenge on the ability of the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a referendum was 'not her preferred approach'.