Horticultural exhibitions aren’t normally hotspots for international diplomacy but the International Horticultural Exhibition that began in Beijing this week has achieved just such a feat.
More than 100 countries are represented (not the Americans, it seems) but it is the attendance of the Vatican that has caused the biggest stir, because it is one of the few remaining holdouts in recognising the People’s Republic of China diplomatically.
The Global Times reports that ties have been improving since last year, following a temporary agreement on the appointment of Catholic bishops in China, and a spokesperson for the Holy See said that its 200 square metre pavilion at the gardening expo is designed to “create a climate of dialogue”.
The pavilion also features rare books from the Vatican’s library on topics like the cultivation of herbs and the medicinal properties of plants.
The China Daily expects 16 million to visit the exhibition in Beijing over its 162-day run. The event – which the domestic media is describing as ‘a classroom for learning Xi Jinping’s ecological civilisation’ – attracted 35,000 on its opening day on Monday.