The Atlantic

China Reneges on Its Deals. The Vatican Is Learning That the Hard Way.

The disappearance of a bishop is an object lesson in interacting with Beijing.
Source: David Gray / Reuters

As China’s economic and military power has expanded over the past decade, Beijing has shown a proclivity to renege on agreements and to make access to its markets conditional on acceding to its shifting demands. Countries, companies, and international organizations have found it difficult to push back.

The Vatican, as both a state and the spiritual head of a major international institution, is now grappling with this challenge. In September, the Holy See inked a provisional agreement with Beijing in an attempt to mend an almost 70-year-old schism. Vatican leaders argued that the deal would promote unity. They insisted that it would enable them to better minister to their Catholic flock in China. They dismissed concerns that it constituted “selling out” to a repressive government.

Then a Chinese bishop . The suspected arbitrary

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