- - Thursday, March 21, 2013

The diplomatically isolated democratic island of Taiwan won a major international victory this week as the country’s president and first lady took part in the papal investiture at the Vatican.

On Tuesday, right after his inaugural Mass, Pope Francis met with President Ma Ying-jeou and his wife Chow Mei-ching, marking the first time a pontiff spoke in person with a Taiwanese president.

“Francis is warm, passionate and extremely friendly, always wearing a smile during our interaction,” an ebullient Mr. Ma was quoted as saying in the official Taiwanese government publication Taiwan Today.

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, has long maintained friendly ties to the Vatican.

“[Taiwan] and the Holy See have entered our 71st year of friendship and share the universal values of democracy, human rights, liberty, peace and the rule of law,” said Mr. Ma after meeting with the pontiff, apparently taking a dig at the conspicuous lack of such virtues in communist China.

The Beijing government has spent an enormous amount of resources over the past several decades in an effort to diplomatically strangle Taiwan. China views the island as breakaway province.

In a similar vein, Beijing also vehemently resents any Vatican influence in China and has never recognized the authority and legitimacy of the pope over Roman Catholics inside China.

As a result, the Vatican is the only European country that maintains diplomatic relations with Taipei.

The Chinese communist government also sent a note of congratulations to the newly anointed pope. But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stated that the Vatican must end its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan and end what she called its interference in China’s domestic affairs.

China is among the world’s most flagrant violators of religious freedom, according to human rights groups. Millions of Catholics inside China suffer severe police harassment for organizing underground churches. Family churches that pledge loyalty to the pope, rather than the Chinese Communist Party, also are persecuted.

Report: Chinese acknowledge radar lock

“Senior Chinese military officials” recently acknowledged that a Chinese naval frigate beamed its fire-control radar directly at a nearby Japanese destroyer, Japan’s Kyodo news services reported this week.

Chinese communist government authorities immediately denied the report and accused the news service of spreading lies. Japan earlier blamed China for the Jan. 30 incident.

The initial Japanese claim of the radar illumination — regarded as a hostile act by navies — prompted the Japanese to lodge a serious diplomatic protest with Beijing. China reacted by vehemently denying the Japanese narrative, calling it a “groundless fabrication.”

Japan’s defense officials then announced that they planned to release technical radar data proving the Chinese action. But Japanese intelligence officials intervened and forced the Japanese government to withdraw the data release offer amid concerns the Chinese would learn how Japanese technicians detected, intercepted and recorded key military technical data.

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