Cardinal Zuppi's meeting with China's Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs, Li Hui, took place in an "open and cordial atmosphere."
Italian Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Pope Francis’ envoy on a mission for peace in Ukraine, was received on September 14, 2023, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China by Li Hui, Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs, announced the Holy See Press Office on the same day. The visit to Beijing, a rare one for a senior representative of the Catholic Church, focused on “the need to unite efforts to foster dialogue and find paths leading to peace” and the issue of “food security” resulting from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the statement explains.
After Kyiv, Moscow and Washington DC, Cardinal Zuppi continued his mission for peace in Ukraine, entrusted to him by the Pontiff, with this visit to the Chinese capital. His meeting with a high-ranking Chinese representative, a historic encounter in itself, “took place in an open and cordial atmosphere, and was centered on the war in Ukraine and its dramatic consequences,” underlined the Holy See.
The two sides emphasized “the need to unite efforts to foster dialogue and find paths leading to peace,” according to the statement. While the issue of the repatriation of Ukrainian children present on Russian soil was not raised, the “problem of food security” was addressed.
The Ukrainian grain deal
The Holy See, which defends the resumption of the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea, suspended by Russia in July 2022, states that Cardinal Zuppi shared with his interlocutor “the hope that cereal exports could soon be guaranteed, especially for those countries most at risk.”
This position has long been defended by Vatican diplomacy, of which a representative accompanies the cardinal on his trip. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, defined the agreement reached in July 2022 by Russia and Ukraine – thanks to mediation by Turkey – as an “example of dialogue.”
During the Angelus on July 30, 2023, Pope Francis lamented the end of this agreement. “The cry of millions of brothers and sisters who suffer hunger rises up to Heaven,” he said.