Weekend Roundup: The Pope Blesses China

Many seem to fear the rise of China as a challenge to the West. Not Pope Francis.
In a remarkable interview published this week in Asia Times, he takes the long view, transcending contemporary geopolitics and embracing the return of the Middle Kingdom’s ancient civilization to the global stage as enriching for us all.

“For me, China has always been a reference point of greatness,” the pontiff was quoted as saying. “A great country. But more than a country, a great culture, with an inexhaustible wisdom.” It was the first time in 2,000 years that a pope had extended greetings on the Lunar New Year to a Chinese leader. In the interview, Francis referred to the experience of Matteo Ricci, the 16th century Jesuit missionary who in many ways introduced China to the West. “Ricci’s experience teaches us that it is necessary to enter into dialogue with China, because it is an accumulation of wisdom and history.” We in the West, he further said, have a “duty to respect it with a capital ‘R’.”

Writing from Rome for our “Following Francis” series, Sébastien Maillard explains why the pope is “looking East” to Russia and China, including talk of a possible compromise with Beijing that would allow the Vatican to once again appoint bishops there.

Former Hong Kong governor C.H. Tung also invokes history to make his case that China has no desire for world leadership today. “At the height of the Ming Dynasty, when China had 30 percent of the GDP of the world, China remained peaceful and did not make incursions into foreign lands,” he writes.

Those who aren’t concerned about China’s rise are concerned about its demise as the rapid growth of past decades slows. Writing from —> Read More