The relationship between Cardinal John Baptist Wu Cheng-chung and China has not been cordial all the way. Cardinal Wu has spoken openly and often about the lack of religious freedom in China. When he made his first official visit to Beijing in November 1994, he clashed with religious officials over the appointment of bishops and raised the issue in his meeting with Religious Affairs Bureau Director Zhang Shengzuo. Born on the mainland in 1925, Cardinal Wu was educated in the Regional Seminary, Aberdeen in Hong Kong, studying philosophy and theology between 1946 and 1956. He furthered his education at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. He was ordained in 1952, became an assistant parish priest in 1957 and a parish priest in 1960. He was appointed a bishop in 1975 and became the first Chinese Cardinal in 1988. In May this year, nine Christian groups, including the Christian Industrial Committee, the Hong Kong Christian Institute, and the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese, vowed to boycott the Selection Committee. At a joint meeting, 57 of the 68 representatives voted against churches nominating members for the committee. During the same month, however, Hong Kong's Catholic Church ordered church organisations not to oppose the committee. Cardinal Wu sent a memorandum to parish priests and organisations warning them not to express opinions different from those of the Church. In August, after heated debate within the Diocese, the Church decided to nominate members for the Selection Committee. But those nominated will be instructed not take part in the vote for the provisional legislature. The handover also puts Hong Kong in an awkward position between the Vatican and China, since the central Government only permits Catholics to worship in the state-sponsored Catholic Patriotic Association. The association appoints its own bishops and does not recognise the Pope as the universal Catholic leader. Personnel changes in the hierarchy of the Diocese in the Special Administrative Region comes at a sensitive time amid attempts to resume diplomatic relations which were broken off in 1949. Although it was not expected that there would be any quick solution to the impasse between the Vatican and Beijing, informed sources said discussions had continued unabated in the past year. It is believed Taiwan remains a major obstacle to full normalisation of relations between Beijing and Rome. Sources said Monsignor Zeng would now play a crucial role in future discussions between Beijing and the Vatican. They said the appointment of Monsignor Tong as auxiliary bishop highlighted the Vatican's plan to use Hong Kong as a bridge between the Holy See and China. Monsignor Tong is a China specialist and well accepted within its religious circles. Despite the absence of diplomatic relations, it is believed that Beijing has been informed of the changes. Ye Xiaowen , director of the Religious Affairs Bureau of the State Council, met religious leaders in Hong Kong when he headed a large delegation during a 10-day visit in June. Cardinal Wu was on Mr Ye's schedule for talks, which excluded the provisional legislature and religious issues in Hong Kong.