A top Vatican official has said that China is the best at implementing the social doctrine of the Church.

“You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs,” Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo told Vatican Insider.

Describing the country as “extraordinary,” he said there was a “positive national conscience” in China, adding that “the economy does not dominate politics, as happens in the United States…”

Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Bishop of the Vatican Papal Academy of Sciences, Photo: AFP/Stringer.

“Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese,” Sorondo said. “What people don’t realise is that the central value in China is work, work, work. There’s no other way, fundamentally it is like St Paul said: he who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.”

A rapid influx of rural labour in recent years has created ramshackle villages scattered across Chinese cities. By the end of 2016, around 43 million people were living below the government poverty line of RMB 2,300 (HK$2,856) per year, authorities say. However, Beijing has vowed to end extreme poverty by 2020.

Last March, the government admitted that China’s drug problem was severe and growing.

Sorondo’s comments came as the Catholic church moved closer to a historic agreement with Beijing over who ordains bishops. Seven Beijing-appointed bishops are set to be recognised, decades after the Holy See severed diplomatic ties with the Communist state.

The Holy See. Photo: Diliff via Wikicommons.

China is home to 12 million Catholics, split between a state-sanctioned church and underground congregations which pledge allegiance to the Vatican.

Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.