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‘The world shouldn’t fear China’s rise,’ says Pope Francis

Pope Francis (CNS)

Pope Francis has said the world shouldn’t fear China’s rise to prominence as a global superpower.

The Pontiff made the comments in an interview with Asia Times.

“We must not fear challenges of any kind, since everyone, male and female, has within them the capacity to find ways of co-existing, of respect and mutual admiration,” the Pope told journalist Francesco Sisci at the Vatican.

He continued: “It is obvious that so much culture and so much wisdom, and in addition, so much technical knowledge – we have only to think of age-old medicinal techniques – cannot remain enclosed within a country; they tend to expand, to spread, to communicate. Man tends to communicate, a civilization tends to communicate. It is evident that when communication happens in an aggressive tone to defend oneself, then wars result. But I would not be fearful.”

The Pope said it was “a great challenge to keep the balance of peace” between China and the rest of the world, and that because Europe receives “an increasingly rich contribution” from China, “it is necessary to accept the challenge and to run the risk of balancing this exchange for peace”.

“The Western world, the Eastern world and China all have the capacity to maintain the balance of peace and the strength to do so. We must find the way, always through dialogue; there is no other way,” he said.

During the interview, the Pope spoke of his long-standing admiration for China, which stretches back to his childhood.

“For me, China has always been a reference point of greatness. A great country. But more than a country, a great culture, with an inexhaustible wisdom. For me, as a boy, whenever I read anything about China, it had the capacity to inspire my admiration. I have admiration for China,” he said.

Francis also sent his best wishes to the people of China ahead of the upcoming Chinese New Year of the Monkey.

“On the eve of the New Year, I wish to convey my best wishes and greetings to President Xi Jinping and to all the Chinese people. And I wish to express my hope that they never lose their historical awareness of being a great people, with a great history of wisdom, and that they have much to offer to the world,” he said.