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Catholics must integrate better, says top Chinese official

Speaking before the government-approved Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and Bishops Conference of Catholic Church of China, Yu Zhengsheng said believers must "unify patriotism with affection for the Church".

According to the state news agency Xinhua, he also said: "The church should adhere to the principles of self-administration, run religious affairs independently and guide believers to adhere to the Sinicisation [accepting Han Chinese influence] path of the religion."

Pope Francis has been wanting to achieve a thaw in relations between Beijing and the Vatican, which have remained frosty since the Communists expelled a number of foreign missionaries after their arrival power in 1949.

Another source of tension in their relationship is the Holy See's continued official ties with self-ruled Taiwan, an island which China claims as its own.

Implying opposition to any perceived external interference in Chinese affairs, Zhengsheng said Chinese Catholic must "run their church independently", apparently reiterating China's position that senior Catholic clergy in China should be appointed locally and not by the Vatican.

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