Taiwan prez meets new pope, irks China

Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou and first lady Christine Chow had front-row seats at St. Peter's Square, where a crowd of dignitaries and other well-wishers watched the investiture of Pope Francis on Tuesday.

Ma and the first lady arrived at 9 am, sporting shades under Rome's sunny skies. The couple was greeted by heads of state, including President of Chile Sebastian Pinera, as they made their way through the open-air square.

Meanwhile, a plainly-vested Francis prayed at the tomb of the apostle Peter inside St. Peter's Basilica before facing the crowd in his two-hour installation Mass.

Ma's seat at the Mass was in the first row opposite to St. Peter's Basilica, with Chow at his left and Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla to his right. The crowd included representatives from over 130 nations and leaders of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist faiths.

After the two-hour Mass, Francis spoke with assembled foreign dignitaries including Ma and a beaming first lady. Ma exchanged a handshake and offered congratulations in what was the first meeting between a Taiwan president and a pope.

Last Wednesday, Francis was elected successor to Benedict XVI, who resigned after an eight-year papacy citing health reasons. Ma and the first lady are in Rome as official guests to the pope-elect's installation Mass. The Holy See is Taiwan's only diplomatic ally in Europe, and one of just 23 allies in the world.

Ma's invite has irked Beijing, which last Thursday urged the Holy See to break ties with Taiwan and cease "interfering with China's internal affairs." For years, the Holy See has voiced willingness to transfer formal recognition from Taipei to Beijing on the condition that China grants its Catholic Church freedom of worship.

Ma takes note

The Taiwanese president has said that China's recent remarks to the Holy See should not be taken lightly, according to presidential spokeswoman Garfie Li.

On Monday at Vatican City's Taiwan Embassy, Ma said that "some people" see China's response as "standard" and even "less harsh" than it was in years past, Li told reporters yesterday.

But Ma added that even so, China's statements should not be taken lightly. Taiwan must continue to be prudent in its cross-strait interactions, while continuing to bolster its national defenses.

At the Taiwan Embassy, Ma reiterated his policy to maintain "Three Lines of National Defense": institutionalised relations for China, soft power and international support.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Calvin Ho said yesterday that Ma's purpose in Rome is to attend the investiture, but that the president does not rule out unofficial interactions with other heads of state. Ma, who is staying at the same hotel as many other world leaders, may have good opportunities for dialogue, according to Ho.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors
    No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors

    Instead of filing an opposition, ombudsman prosecutors filed a manifestation yesterday expressing belief that there is no urgent need for Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to visit his son at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center. “Based on the clinical abstract issued by the Asian Hospital on patient (Cavite) Vice-governor (Jolo) Revilla, which was submitted by accused Revilla in support of his Urgent Motion, Vice-governor Revilla is in stable condition and has stable vital signs, as of March 1, …

  • Another source of SAF execution video identified
    Another source of SAF execution video identified

    The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still tracing the source of the video showing one of the wounded police commandos being finished off by Muslim rebels during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A source from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they have identified two persons who first uploaded the video that went viral over social networking sites. The supposed source of the video was elusive and claimed that somebody just placed it on an external drive. The …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say
    How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say

    CAIRO (AP) — Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become "jihadi" brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages beheaded. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options