Photo taken on March 26, 2019 shows a night view of the International Pavilion at the site of the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 Beijing China (Expo 2019 Beijing) in Yanqing district of Beijing, capital of China. (Photo/Xinhua)
China confirmed on Wednesday that the Vatican will attend the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition, which begins later this month, as the two countries work to improve bilateral ties.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a news conference that Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, would attend the expo at the invitation of the event's organizing committee.
The Vatican will have a 200-square-meter pavilion at the expo to be held from April 29 to Oct 7, according to a news release from the Holy See Press Office.
AsiaNews, an official news agency of the Roman Catholic Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, quoted acting Holy See Press Office director Alessandro Gisotti as saying that this will be the first time that the Vatican officially participates in the expo.
It also quoted Ravasi as saying that "what will happen during the expo will be a different kind of dialogue, purely cultural, and its task is to create an atmosphere in which it is possible to speak a little more about possible exchanges, not only in the religious sphere, but also in the fields of art, culture and scientific research".
China and the Vatican have maintained contact following the signing of a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in September, and the two countries are working hard to improve bilateral relations, Lu said.
The ministry has repeated many times that it is sincere about boosting ties with the Vatican.
According to Lu, the Beijing expo is the world's most prestigious horticultural exhibition and more than 110 countries and international organizations have confirmed their attendance at the event.
"We hope to work with the participants to promote green development through the expo," he added.