US embassy cable - 03VATICAN1033

TAIWAN AT THE HOLY SEE: CLINGING TO ITS LAST TOEHOLD IN EUROPE?

Identifier: 03VATICAN1033
Wikileaks: View 03VATICAN1033 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Vatican
Created: 2003-03-13 05:17:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: CH PREL TW PREL TW VT VTCH
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 001033 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2008 
TAGS: CH, PREL, TW, PREL, TW, VT, VTCH 
SUBJECT: TAIWAN AT THE HOLY SEE: CLINGING TO ITS LAST 
TOEHOLD IN EUROPE? 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR JIM NICHOLSON FOR REASONS 1.5 (B)(D) 
 
1.  (U)  SUMMARY:  WHILE TAIWAN IS WELL AWARE THAT THE HOLY 
SEE WILL SHIFT ITS DIPLOMATIC  RELATIONS TO BEIJING AS SOON 
AS IT CAN; TAIPEI CONTINUES TO USE ITS LAST EMBASSY IN EUROPE 
TO PRESENT ITSELF AS A MATURE DEMOCRATIC STATE THAT PLAYS A 
CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE IN THE ADVANCEMENT OF DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN 
RIGHTS IN ALL OF CHINA AND THROUGHOUT ASIA.  DIPLOMATIC 
RELATIONS BETWEEN TAIWAN AND THE HOLY SEE OFFER UNIQUE 
ADVANTAGES TO EACH.  FOR TAIWAN, RELATIONS WITH THE HOLY SEE 
REPRESENT A PRESTIGIOUS LAST STAND IN EUROPE, ALLOWING 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  01033  01 OF 02  150544Z 
CONTACT BETWEEN TAIWANESE DIPLOMATS AND THE 71 OTHER MISSIONS 
TO THE HOLY SEE RESIDENT IN ROME.  TO THE HOLY SEE, THESE 
RELATIONS ARE BOTH A BARGAINING CHIP IN ITS DIALOGUE WITH THE 
PRC AND A MEANS TO SUPPORT THE 300,000 CATHOLICS IN TAIWAN. 
FOR NORMALIZATION OF RELATIONS BETWEEN THE PRC AND THE HOLY 
SEE TO TAKE PLACE, THE PRC INSISTS ON THE HOLY SEE BREAKING 
ITS TIES WITH TAIWAN, WHILE THE HOLY SEE INSISTS THAT PRC 
RECOGNIZE THE FUNDAMENTAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM EMBEDDED IN THE 
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CATHOLICS AND THE POPE.  THE TAIWAN 
MISSION TO THE HOLY SEE TAKES FULL ADVANTAGE OF ITS PRESENCE 
IN ROME TO INTERACT WITH THE DIPLOMATIC COMMUNITY, ENGAGE 
BROADER EUROPEAN CIVIL SOCIETY, AND MAKE THE MOST OF ONE OF 
THEIR BEST LISTENING POSTS.   END SUMMARY. 
 
------------------------------------ 
A JEWEL IN TAIWAN'S DIPLOMATIC CROWN 
------------------------------------ 
 
2.  (U)  JUST AS THE SITUATION OF THE CHURCH IN CHINA IS 
SOMEWHAT AMBIGUOUS, SO IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TAIPEI AND 
VATICAN CITY.  THE HOLY SEE IS THE ONLY EUROPEAN STATE THAT 
MAINTAINS DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH TAIWAN.  DIPLOMATIC 
RELATIONS WERE FIRST ESTABLISHED IN 1942, AND THE HOLY SEE 
CONTINUED RELATIONS WITH THE NATIONALIST GOVERNMENT WHEN, IN 
1950, THE CHINESE COMMUNISTS IN BEIJING SEVERED TIES WITH THE 
HOLY SEE AS A PART OF THEIR BROADER EFFORTS TO PURGE CHINA OF 
FOREIGN INFLUENCES.  THE HOLY SEE MAINTAINS ITS DIPLOMATIC 
PRESENCE IN CHINA FROM HONG KONG, NOT TAIPEI, TO SIGNAL THIS 
IS A "TEMPORARY" SITUATION THAT AWAITS NORMALIZATION IN ITS 
DIPLOMATIC TIES TO BEIJING.  ASYMMETRICALLY, THE HOLY SEE 
PERMITS TAIPEI TO MAINTAIN A FULL EMBASSY HERE IN ROME.  THUS 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  01033  01 OF 02  150544Z 
FOR TAIPEI, APART FROM THE STAR-CROSSED ADVENTURE IN 
MACEDONIA, THEIR DIPLOMATIC PRESENCE IN THE VATICAN 
REPRESENTS A LAST TOEHOLD IN EUROPE. TO THE HOLY SEE, 
DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH TAIWAN REPRESENT A BARGAINING CHIP 
THAT IT WOULD NOT HESITATE TO USE IN ORDER TO GAIN NORMALIZED 
RELATIONS WITH THE PRC (AND ITS TEN MILLION CATHOLICS).  THE 
HOLY SEE APPEARS CONTENT TO HOLD ON TO THIS CARD WHILE 
ATTEMPTING TO REOPEN DIALOGUE WITH BEIJING.  THE TAIWANESE 
RECOGNIZE THAT PRC INSISTENCE ON SEVERING HOLY SEE/TAIWAN 
TIES BEFORE CHINA/HOLY SEE RELATIONS CAN BE ESTABLISHED IS A 
SWORD OF DAMOCLES HANGING OVER THEM.  ITS THREAD, HOWEVER, 
SHOWS NO SIGNS OF FRAYING JUST YET. 
 
3.  (C)  THE TAIWAN EMBASSY TO THE HOLY SEE SEEKS TO 
CAPITALIZE ON THIS FULL DIPLOMATIC PRESENCE BY VIGOROUSLY 
WORKING ALL THE CONTACTS AVAILABLE TO IT TO ASSOCIATE TAIWAN 
WITH THE HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMANITARIAN IMPERATIVES OF HOLY 
SEE FOREIGN POLICY.  AMBASSADOR RAYMOND TAI, A SEASONED 
TAIWAN DIPLOMAT, MISSES NO OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THE TAIWAN 
FLAG AT VATICAN-RELATED OFFICIAL AND SOCIAL EVENTS.  TAI HAS 
STATED THAT HE IS "GREATLY HONORED TO REPRESENT ALL FREEDOM 
AND PEACE-LOVING CHINESE PEOPLE AT THE VATICAN, WHERE THE 
PAPACY IS A STAUNCH DEFENDER OF DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS." 
THIS THEME WAS ESTABLISHED WHEN TAI PRESENTED HIS CREDENTIALS 
TO THE POPE.  THE POPE SAID, "TAIWAN IS FREE!" TO WHICH TAI 
REPLIED "LET'S JOIN HANDS IN MAKING MAINLAND CHINA FREE." 
TAIWAN'S PRESENCE AT THE HOLY SEE ALSO OFFERS OPPORTUNITIES 
TO MONITOR AND INTERACT WITH CLERGY WHO COME AND GO FROM 
WITHIN CHINA AND WHO OFTEN WORK WITH ISOLATED CHINESE 
COMMUNITIES.  THE EUROPEAN BASE FURTHER OFFERS TAI A 
SPRINGBOARD TO SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS EUROPE-WIDE, WHERE HE 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        VATICA  01033  01 OF 02  150544Z 
INVARIABLY PRESENTS TAIWAN AS A STAUNCH DEFENDER OF DEMOCRACY 
AND HUMAN RIGHTS. 
 
-------------------------- 
WORKING ALL THE ANGLES 
-------------------------- 
 
3.  (U)  REFLECTING THE IMPORTANCE IT PLACES ON ITS LAST 
TOEHOLD IN EUROPE TAIWAN MAINTAINS A COMPARATIVELY LARGE AND 
ACTIVE STAFF IN ITS EMBASSY. EMBASSY STAFF MAINTAIN AN ACTIVE 
 PRESENCE AT ALL OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS AS WELL AS MANY SOCIAL 
FUNCTIONS.  THEY HAVE SOUGHT TO PARTICIPATE ACTIVELY IN 
ADVANCING HUMANITARIAN AND HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES, SUPPORTING AN 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ8715 
 
PAGE 01        VATICA  01033  02 OF 02  150548Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   AIT-03   EAP-00   TEDE-00  IO-00    P-00     SAS-00 
        /003W 
                  ------------------44CC8B  150549Z /32 
R 130517Z MAR 03 
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE 
AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMEMBASSY SEOUL 
AMEMBASSY TOKYO 
AMCONSUL HONG KONG 
AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 
AMCONSUL SHENYANG 
AIT TAIPEI 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 001033 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2008 
TAGS: CH, PREL, TW, VT 
SUBJECT: TAIWAN AT THE HOLY SEE: CLINGING TO ITS LAST 
TOEHOLD IN EUROPE? 
 
ANTI-TRAFFICKING CONFERENCE AND ENGAGING IN A RECENT BIOTECH 
IN AFRICA SEMINAR POST HOSTED AT AN OFF-SITE LOCATION.  THE 
TAIWAN STAFF IS ADEPT AT KEEPING THE PULSE OF THE DIPLOMATIC 
COMMUNITY BY FREQUENTLY 'WINING AND DINING' DIPLOMATS 
RESIDENT IN ROME, AND ORGANIZING FAREWELL DINNERS FOR 
COLLEAGUES IN THE BROADER DIPLOMATIC CORPS.  THE TAIWAN 
EMBASSY WAS SECOND ONLY TO THE USG IN DONATIONS TO THE WORLD 
CONFERENCE ON THE TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS HELD AT THE 
GREGORIAN UNIVERSITY IN ROME IN MAY 2002.  TAIWAN ALSO SEEKS 
TO ASSOCIATE ITSELF WITH THE COMMUNITY OF DEMOCRATIC NATIONS 
IN THE HOLY SEE DIPLOMATIC CORPS.  IN FACT, THEY ARE ALSO 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  01033  02 OF 02  150548Z 
GENEROUS WITH FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR DIVERSE CONFERENCES 
AND CHARITABLE PROJECTS.  TAIWAN EMBASSY FIRST SECRETARY 
PETER TING RECENTLY TOLD POLOFF THAT A KEY GOAL OF HIS 
EMBASSY IS TO ACTIVELY SEEK OPPORTUNITIES TO COLLABORATE WITH 
THE U.S. EMBASSY. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
AFTER THE HOLY SEE ESTABLISHES RELATIONS WITH PRC 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
4.  (C)  THE TAIWAN EMBASSY IS WELL AWARE OF THE HOLY SEE'S 
DESIRE TO RE-ESTABLISH NORMALIZED RELATIONS WITH THE PRC. 
THEY ARE ALSO AWARE THAT THE HOLY SEE IS READY AND WILLING TO 
CUT DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH TAIWAN IN ORDER TO MAKE THIS 
POSSIBLE.  PETER TING TOLD POLOFF THAT THERE IS SPECULATION 
THAT FAIRLY LARGE CHANGES COULD OCCUR WITH THE NEW PRC 
GOVERNMENT, AND THESE COULD BEGIN UNLOCKING THE HOLY 
SEE/BEIJING DIALOGUE ON NORMALIZATION OF RELATIONS.  WHILE 
TAIWAN LOATH TO LOSE ITS LAST DIPLOMATIC MISSION IN EUROPE, 
IT DOES WANT TO ASSIST IN BRINGING DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS 
TO CHINA, EVEN AT THE COST OF LOSING THAT MISSION.  AFTER THE 
HOLY SEE TRANSFERS DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS TO PRC, TAIWAN WOULD 
LIKELY CONTINUE CULTURAL RELATIONS OUT OF ITS CO-LOCATED 
TRADE OFFICE TO ITALY, MAINLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF RELIGIOUS 
DIALOGUE.  WHILE CURRENT PLANNING IS TO MERGE THE CURRENT 
MISSION WITH THE TRADE OFFICE, THE POSSIBILITY OF 
ESTABLISHING A CULTURAL OFFICE TO THE HOLY SEE IS BEING 
CONSIDERED. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  01033  02 OF 02  150548Z 
------- 
 
5. (C) POST SOMETIMES MUST HOLD OUR TAIWAN FRIENDS AT ARM'S 
LENGTH BECAUSE OF THEIR DETERMINED ATTEMPTS TO ASSOCIATE 
THEMSELVES WITH THE USG.  AN EXAMPLE IS THEIR INSISTENCE ON 
"JOINING THE US" IN SUPPORTING AN ANTI-TRAFFICKING PROJECT 
FUNDED BY PD/ECA.  AMBASSADOR TAI INVITED AMBASSADOR 
NICHOLSON, THEN DCM AND POLOFF TO JOIN THE TAIWAN DELEGATION 
IN PRESENTING A CHECK TO THE CARITAS PROJECT IMPLEMENTERS. 
WE POLITELY DECLINED, SIMPLY REFERRING THEM TO THE CARITAS 
OFFICE.  THAT SAID, THE TAIWANESE, TOGETHER WITH OUR OTHER 
"ACTION ORIENTED" COLLEAGUES SUCH AS THE IRISH, CANADIANS AND 
AUSTRIANS, ARE A USEFUL ALLY IN GAINING THE SUPPORT OF 
COLLEAGUES TO ADVANCE ISSUES WITHIN THE STOLID HOLY SEE 
DIPLOMATIC CORPS.  AS NOTED ABOVE, TAIWAN ASSISTANCE WAS 
HELPFUL IN OUR EFFORTS TO HOLD A MAJOR INTERNATIONAL 
CONFERENCE ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS LAST MAY.  POST WILL 
CONTINUE TO ENCOURAGE TAIWANESE ACTIVISM AT THE HOLY SEE 
WITHOUT CROSSING ANY DIPLOMATIC "RED LINES" IN OUR 
RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM. 
 
6.  (C) TAIWAN MOREOVER IS EXTREMELY ACTIVE IN THE "ASIA 
GROUP" OF EMBASSIES ACCREDITED TO THE HOLY SEE.  AMBASSADOR 
TAI FACILITATED OUR EMBASSY'S PARTICIPATION IN THE ASIA 
GROUP'S ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN DECEMBER OF 2001.  AMBASSADOR 
NICHOLSON SPOKE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF COMBATING 
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM AT THAT MEETING WITH TAI'S HELP, 
OVERCOMING THE OBJECTIONS OF THE IRANIAN AMBASSADOR. 
 
NICHOLSON 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
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                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 
 

 2003VATICA01033 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL 


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