José Lev Gómez
José Lev Gómez

The new honeymoon between the Vatican and China

Despite being one of the most recent and the smallest states in the world, the Vatican has the oldest diplomacy in history. Although the Vatican has stood out in recent years in negotiating peace between the Arabs and Israelis and re-establishing relations between the United States and Cuba, its relations with several Asian countries are not very good. Among these countries is China. Following the arrival of Mao Zedong, in China there were 6 million Catholics who were faithful devotees to a national-religious institution not attached to the communist leader. They literally responded to the Vatican. Faced with this, and in order not to end Catholics within a society that aspired to be completely atheistic, Zedong decided to create the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA). The CPCA was created in 1957 and is a religious entity which follows all the basic principles of the Catholic Church, but in which the bishops are appointed by the Chinese Communist Party. So by not recognizing the CPCA, the Vatican has no diplomatic channels with China.

Nevertheless, there is still a minority of Chinese Catholics who follow the Holy See. This “dissident” minority along with other practitioners of religions not recognized by the state, have been arrested and even killed by the Chinese government. This has given way to the extraction and trafficking of organs for transplants. In many cases, the organs of prisoners and murdered persons have been extracted without their consent. Since organs are scarce goods across the globe, this has made organ prices-in a population as large as China-high in value. In the black market, a lung in China can cost $170,000. Despite having people registered as voluntary donors, China is the second country, in the world, with the largest number of transplants performed annually. And many of these transplants are made with illegally acquired organs. Although the international community rejects these actions, China does not end this practice and it is estimated that there are illegally transplanted 12,000 organs annually.

With the arrival of Pope Francis, relations between the Vatican and China changed completely. Unlike his predecessors, Pope Francis has refused to meet with the Dalai Lama to avoid irritating China and thus succeed in appointing bishops in the CPCA. However, this has not been enough. So in February 2017 the Vatican invited Huang Jiefu, a transplant surgeon close to the Chinese dictatorship, to give a conference on organ trafficking in the Holy See. Curiously, a month after this conference, China and the Vatican reached an agreement for the ordination of archbishops in China. Despite the moral lessons of Pope Francis around the world, this move is far from what promotes the most important religious leader in the world.

About the Author
•José Lev Álvarez Gómez is a medical student at the American University of Antigua - School of Medicine. •At the undergraduate level, Lev Álvarez holds a B.S. in Neuroscience with a Minor in Israel Studies from The American University in Washington, DC (2015-2019). During college, he interned at the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico, the College Republicans National Committee and The David Project (all in Washington, DC). He then completed a diplomatic internship at the Kurdistan Regional Government (Iraqi Kurdistan) Delegation in Washington, DC. José also worked as an Israel related events coordinator for American University Hillel and as a program assistant for the Center for Israel Studies at the American University. •At the graduate level, Lev holds an MA in International Geostrategy and Jihadist Terrorism from Instituto Internacional de Estudios en Seguridad Global (INISEG)-Madrid, España/Università Telematica Pegaso in Naples, Italy and in 2020 completed a bioethics course at Harvard University. •From 2019-2021, Lev served in a special unit in the Israel Defense Forces (2019-2021) and ended his service as a sergeant. •Álvarez Gómez has a blog in the Times of Israel, is a columnist for Diario Judío (Mexico), and has written for several newspapers such as El Nuevo Día (Puerto Rico), El Vocero de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico), Latino Rebels (United States) and Red Alert Politics (United States). He currently collaborates as an analyst and investigator at INISEG-Madrid. Lev, who has published more than 140 opinion articles, is the author of two books: "Panorama Internacional: Una mirada a la geopolítica e historia mundial (2016-2017)" and "Puerto Rico: El nocivismo del insularismo y el colonialismo", and completed his minor’s independent project and his MA thesis on the "The Relations of Israel with Basque and Catalan Nationalism and its future geopolitical impact”. José speaks and writes Spanish and English excellently, speaks and writes correctly Catalan, Galego and Ladino, and has professional working proficiency knowledge of Hebrew.
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