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.