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Pope Francis hails ‘good’ relations with China after he receives gift from President Xi Jinping

Pope Francis says the Vatican’s relations with Beijing are “good” and that he has just received a present from China’s President Xi Jinping.

The pope, speaking aboard the papal plane while flying home from Azerbaijan on Sunday, said Xi had just sent him a gift with a visiting delegation that had attended a Vatican conference.

Vatican is taking ‘new approach to China’

Working groups were now “slowly” discussing relations that were severed under communism, the pope added.

“They’re talking slowly, but slow things are good. Things that move fast aren’t good,” the pope said, adding: “The Chinese people have my highest esteem.”

He also said the Vatican Museums had just held an exhibition in China and that Beijing were due to hold one in the Vatican.

In August, the head of Hong Kong’s Catholic Church revealed that the Vatican and Beijing had reached an initial agreement on the appointment of Catholic bishops in mainland China in an effort to secure a breakthrough in bilateral ties.

Cardinal John Tong Hon said Beijing was now willing to reach an understanding with the Vatican on the appointment of bishops in the Catholic Church on the mainland and also seek a mutually acceptable plan.

Under the initial agreement, the pope would choose from a list of candidates recommended by a conference comprising bishops from the open and clandestine churches.

Beijing, Vatican reach initial accord on appointment of bishops, Hong Kong cardinal says

The 77-year-old cardinal said a bishops’ conference in China would have the authority only to recommend, while the power of the final decision would still rest with the pope.

The pope also outlined his 2017 travel plans, saying he would visit Portugal next year and was “almost sure” he would go to India and Bangladesh.

It was still undecided where in Africa he would visit and whether Colombia’s peace accord was “certain, certain, certain” enough to enable a papal visit.

His travel schedule is complicated by the fact that next year is already full of appointments with visiting bishops, whose visits in 2016 were put off due to the pope’s Holy Year of Mercy, which ends in November.

However, the pope confirmed that, along with the trips to India and Bangladesh, he was planning a May 13 trip to the famed Marian shrine at Fatima in Portugal.

In the end, Pope Francis’ ‘kowtow diplomacy’ towards China will show itself to be smart diplomacy

His destination in Africa would depend on the weather conditions, time of year and regional political and conflict situations, he said.

The pope said previously that he would visit Colombia if the government and rebels reached a peace accord. Colombians voted on Sunday in a referendum to enshrine the accord ending Latin America’s longest-running conflict.

The pope said he would go to Colombia “when everything is certain, certain, certain, when they can’t go back, when the international community has agreed that no one can make a [legal] recourse, that it’s finished.

“ If it’s like that, I could go. If it’s unstable? It all depends on what the people say. The people are sovereign.”

Article source: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2024582/pope-francis-hails-good-relations-china-after-he