China to new pope: Welcome, but stay away from Taiwan

China welcomed aboard Pope Francis 1, the former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, with a formal statement of congratulations on Thursday. But in the next breath, the nation issued a thinly veiled warning.

Cut ties with Taiwan, Foreign Minister spokeswoman Hua Chunying said to the new Vatican head, The Associated Press reports. Taiwan is not a sovereign democracy, but rather a Chinese territory, and should not be treated by the Vatican as if it’s a separate government, the spokeswoman said, AP reports.

The Vatican’s response, AP reports: The Vatican will be happy to cut ties with Taiwan so long as Beijing can prove its government will grant full freedom of religious worship, absent Communist Party condemnations.

China demanded that Chinese Catholics sever ties with the pope 50-plus years ago, AP reports.

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