The meeting was held with the utmost discretion on October 31, 2021. Nothing has leaked so far, because in the land of Confucius, silence remains a most valued virtue.
It was only a few hours before the transition to 2022 that several Hong Kong priests decided to play the role of whistleblowers, revealing the arrival, in the former British colony, of bishops from mainland China with the aim of keeping the local clergy “informed” of the “vision of religion maintained by President Xi Jinping.”
The priests who attended this unpublished seminar described it as “the most committed action so far by Beijing, to try to exert its influence on the diocese of Hong Kong,” which is supposed to depend first and foremost on the Holy See.
Although Hong Kong’s Catholic leaders have met with their mainland counterparts individually in the past, this is the first time the two sides have come together at such a level, at the initiative of the People’s Republic of China.
A one-day meeting that was closely followed live, via Zoom, by members of the Beijing Central Government Liaison Office in Hong Kong, the entity that embodies the growing authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the port city.
When asked by Reuters, Hong Kong Diocese spokeswoman Susanne Ho said the diocese “does not usually disclose details of its private meetings,” while the Liaison Office did not even deign to make any comments whatsoever.
One of the priests present shared his feelings: “It looked like this was only a first step, and they didn’t want to be too pushy, but we all know what is there behind the term ‘sinisation’ so that there was no need to go into more detail.”
Xi Jinping’s thoughts on religion were on the agenda of a meeting organized at the highest level between Catholic representatives from the People’s Republic of China and those from Hong Kong, whose maneuvering room seems to have been drastically reduced over the months.