Greeting softens Benedict's image as anti-communist conservative An indication by Pope Benedict that he would like a renewal of diplomatic ties between the Vatican and Beijing has eased fears among central government leaders that the pontiff might be an anti-communist conservative, an expert says. Analysts see an opening for a resumption of talks between the two sides. In his audience with foreign diplomats last week, the Pope sent his greetings to 'nations with whom the Holy See does not yet have diplomatic relations' and hoped they would soon establish links. A Vatican official involved in China affairs said the Pope had made it clear he wished to renew ties with Beijing, and while a breakthrough was not imminent, his statement was significant. Though the pontiff did not mention China by name, Vatican officials have made clear he had Beijing in mind when he spoke. The Holy See recognises Taiwan, not the mainland. Beatrice Leung Kit-fun, an expert on Sino-Vatican relations at Taiwan's Wenzao Ursuline College, said the move could lead to an early resumption of negotiations, especially since both sides had expressed goodwill since the death last month of Benedict's predecessor John Paul II. 'What the Holy Father said is in effect an open invitation to Beijing,' Professor Leung said. Anthony Lam Sui-ki, of the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong, said the Pope's message could assuage the fear in Beijing that the pontiff was an anti-communist hardliner. 'The mainland authorities were fearful that Benedict would be as conservative and anti-communist as the media have projected. 'His gesture last week has cleared that doubt and opened the way for renewed dialogue,' Mr Lam said. A senior Vatican official said: 'The Holy Father has made a very clear wish to re-establish diplomatic ties with China. We are now hoping to see China's response.' Since the death of John Paul, expectations of renewed negotiation have been building. The Vatican has restated its willingness to cut links with Taiwan, while Beijing has repeated its demand that the Vatican should act first. But both sides have remained cautious.