Chinese Embassy shares anti-Catholic cartoon during Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan – Catholic World Report
St. Louis, Mo. Aug. 5, 2022 / 12:47 p.m. (CNA).
On the day of a controversial visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Chinese Embassy in France tweeted a political cartoon that drew criticism for its seemingly anti-Catholic message.
The image, created by a Chinese artist and propagandist named Wuheqilin, shows a scrawny, hooded, witch-like woman – crowned with a ring of stars, reminiscent of the Virgin Mary – jumping out of a nativity scene window, trying to snatch a baby from its crib. A muscular man holding a hammer, a clear allegory of communism, looks on.
The woman’s face is Pelosi’s, which the image caption also clarifies with two hashtags: #Taiwan and #Pelosivisit. However, the tweet also includes the image’s title in Chinese, which provides a second intentional meaning: “Mary, the baby thief.”
Pelosi is one of the most prominent Catholics in American politics, second only to President Joe Biden. His Tuesday visit to the island of Taiwan – which the United States does not officially recognize as independent from China – represented, as the Washington Post reported, the highest-level visit by a US official to the island. autonomous island for decades.
A caption at the top of the image written in English reads: “No one likes war, but no father would ever allow someone to steal his child.” There is a map of China on the wall, as well as a picture of a frog above the baby’s head.
In a editorial for UCA News, Theologian and cultural anthropologist Michel Chambon noted that there is precedent for the image of a frog being used in China as a slur to refer to the people of Taiwan. He also said the cartoon depicts Pelosi as “a witch who wants to steal Taiwan from her homeland.”
Benedict Rogers, a British human rights defender who studies China, called the image “shocking, crude, sacrilegious and deeply offensive to Catholics and many Christians of other traditions around the world”.
“It is an example of Chinese Communist Party rule in its most brutal, depraved, disgusting and inhumane form, and signaled a clear willingness to attack Nancy Pelosi because of her Catholic faith as well as the politics of the situation. “, said Rogers. in written comments to CNA.
“It signals what those of us who follow China have long known – the Chinese Communist Party regime’s absolute hostility to religion. In recent years, we have seen an escalation in the persecution of Christians, including of Catholics, and a severe repression of religious freedom as a whole.
The UCA News author noted that the Holy See remains one of the only entities of “global significance” that maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan. China considers Taiwan as part of its territory, while Taiwan claims its independence.
“For Chinese propagandists suffering from persecution syndromes, merging American politics with global Catholicism is an easy step,” Chambon wrote.
China’s ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, called Pelosi’s visit an “unnecessary provocation” and said this week that once China achieves its stated goal of establishing control over Taiwan, a process of “re-education” of the island’s population would follow, Newsweek reported. It would appear to involve a process similar to what is happening now in Xinjiang, where millions of Uyghur Muslims have been herded into “re-education” camps in recent years and forcibly assimilated into Chinese culture.
China conducted major military exercises this week, which included launching large missiles into the sea around Taiwan during the visit.
Chambon, the UCA News columnist, noted that the tweeted image is “not only offensive, but signals a potential return to early communist ideology that could harm many.” He explained that another layer of meaning to the image may refer to a “myth” propagated by the government in the 1950s that “Catholic orphanages were factories for stealing and killing Chinese babies”.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party is officially atheist, and believers of all stripes have been persecuted in China for years. The Catholic Church in China is divided between the “clandestine” Catholic Church, which is persecuted and loyal to the pope, and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which is sanctioned by the government.
In 2018, the Vatican reached an as yet unpublished interim agreement with the Chinese government intended to bring about the unification of the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the underground Church in communion with Rome. Instead, the persecution of the underground church continued and, according to some, escalated. Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, a vocal critic of the Vatican-China deal, will face test in September with four other prominent democracy advocates.
The United States does not maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but maintains what the State Department calls “a strong unofficial relationship,” which includes deep commercial ties. For years, the United States has operated under a “one China policy” to avoid angering the Chinese government. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the visit is not a sign that US policy on Taiwan has changed.
Rogers, who is a staunch critic of the Vatican’s 2018 deal with China on the appointment of bishops, felt that the Chinese government’s clear animosity towards Catholicism – long known but fully exposed in the cartoon – provides “yet another reason why the Vatican should rethink its relationship with Beijing.
Pope Francis has said he hopes the Vatican’s agreement with China on the appointment of Catholic bishops will be renewed for a second two-year period in October.
“As the deadline to renew the agreement with Beijing approaches, the Vatican should consider suspending the agreement in light of the genocide of the Uyghurs, the dismantling of freedoms in Hong Kong, the arrest of the Hong Kong cardinal, 90-year-old Joseph Zen of the severe persecution of Christians in China and now this blatant insult to Catholics around the world,” Rogers told CNA.
If you enjoy the news and views provided by Catholic World Report, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers around the world for free, without subscription. Thank you for your generosity!
Click here for more information on donating to the CWR. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.