The Vatican must not interfere with China's internal affairs if it wants to restore diplomatic relations, Beijing said Thursday, responding to the Holy See's call for dialogue.
China has "taken note" of recent comments by Vatican officials about the Roman Catholic church's desire to improve relations, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan.
He insisted the Vatican sever ties with China's archrival Taiwan, a condition that church officials already have suggested they would meet, and refrain from actions that would interfere in how China governs itself.
Kong wouldn't elaborate on what Beijing would consider interference. China only allows worship in government-controlled churches and appoints its own priests and bishops. Chinese Catholics who meet outside the sanctioned churches are frequently harassed by authorities.
Beijing prevented Chinese bishops from attending a synod at the Vatican earlier this month, accusing Pope Benedict XVI of showing "no respect" by inviting bishops from both state-sanctioned and unofficial churches.
The Vatican has said it hopes tensions with China will end soon. Its secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, was quoted as saying Tuesday that the Holy See was ready for dialogue and contacts.
An official in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association said Beijing would wait and see, reports the AP. I.L.