A senior Vatican official has accused the Donald Trump administration of exploiting Pope Francis in the final stages of the US presidential election campaign.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on Wednesday at a conference on religious freedom organized by the US Embassy at the Holy See during his visit to Italy.
When Italian news agency Ansa asked Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican̵
Pope Francis reportedly refused to meet with Pompeo during his visit this week, citing the closeness of the US election. But the move is likely to be linked to Pompeo’s recent attacks on the Vatican’s perceived soft pedaling of China’s human rights reputation as the two countries prepare to continue the historic agreement signed two years ago.
The details of the deal were never made public, but it gave the Vatican the floor in appointing Catholic bishops in China. Pope Francis also recognized eight bishops who were appointed by Beijing without his approval.
China was also a topic during Pompeo’s meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome on Wednesday. Pompeo said he had asked Conte to “carefully consider network security.”
Speaking to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Mayo, Pompeo said he was concerned about China’s plans to expand its influence in the Italian economy.
“We had a long conversation with the foreign minister about the United States’ concerns in the Chinese Communist Party, trying to use its economic presence in Italy to serve its own strategic goals,” Pompeo said, adding that “the Chinese are not here for the sincere.” partnerships with reciprocal benefits ”.
He also called on the Italian government to consider the privacy risks of its citizens posed by technology companies with links to the Chinese Communist Party.
In March 2019, Italy became the first G7 country to approve China’s controversial plan to build a Silk Road-style global trade network, irritating its EU and US allies.
Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit, during which the two countries signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU), which could lead to Italy’s participation in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an ambitious project envisaging China’s investment in a network of infrastructure projects connecting Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Numerous other trade deals were signed in various fields, including tourism, food and football.