An interesting story from the UK about China and the Vatican – especially given the announcement at a recent press conference in the Vatican that the two countries have mutually agreed to loan artworks to each other. China will send 40 works of art to be exhibited in the Vatican Museums and the identical number of works from the Vatican will be sent to China to go on display in Beijing’s Forbidden City, The exhibits will run simultaneously in March, 2018.
CHINA HITS OUT AT POPE AND BANS TRIPS TO VATICAN CITY
(Nov. 30, Express.co.uk) – Chinese travel agents are being threatened with hefty fines unless they cancel scheduled tours to the Vatican City amid strained relations between Beijing and the seat of the Catholic Church.
Tour operators are reportedly being ordered to “delete or cancel” the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica from their list of destinations.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), any company found to be in contravention of the state-issued directive could be fined up to £34,000 (300,000 yuan).
The US-backed news organisation says it had spoken with employees from several travel agencies which had all received formal instructions to prevent Chinese tourists from travelling to the Vatican.
Relations between China’s ruling Communist Party and the Vatican have been strained since Chinese Catholics fled to Taiwan after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists in 1949
And in 1950, a Catholic priest was jailed for complicity in an alleged plot to assassinate then-supreme leader Mao.
The Asian superpower has since made it clear it would like to restore relations with the Vatican, but only if it agrees to sever links with Taiwan, which China sees as a renegade province.
The Vatican is the only European state with which Taiwan has full diplomatic relations, whereas every other EU nation recognises the island as a Chinese territory.
RFA says an employee at the Tuniu China International Travel Service said her company had received orders to remove the Vatican from its itinerary.
Millions of tourists visit the Vatican City every year.
He said: “We used to, but we’re not offering that itinerary any more.
“Groups aren’t going there any more.
“We received a directive from the State Tourism Bureau telling us not to let people go there, so there’s nothing we can do about it.”
The Vatican covers just a quarter of a square mile, but is home to a series of world-class tourist attractions including St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.