VATICAN CITY — The chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has said that China is exercising global moral leadership in the principles of Catholic social teaching and defense of human dignity.

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, an Argentinian, is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. In an interview with Vatican Insider, he recently said that, “at this moment, those who best realize the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.”

Bishop Sorondo told Vatican Insider that he had recently visited China, where he says he found that “they [the Chinese] seek the common good, subordinate things to the general good.”

“I found an extraordinary China; what people do not know is that the central Chinese principle is ‘work, work, work.’ ... As Paul said: ‘He who does not work does not eat.’ You do not have shantytowns; you do not have drugs; young people do not have drugs. There is a positive national consciousness — they want to show that they have changed; they already accept private property,” he said of his trip.

The bishop said that the People’s Republic of China has “defended the dignity of the human person” and, in the area of climate change, is “assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned.”

He criticized the United States, where, he said, the economy dominates politics. “How is it possible that oil multinationals manage Trump?” he asked.

“Liberal thought has liquidated the concept of the common good; they do not even want to take it into account — it affirms that it is an empty idea, without any interest.” On the other hand, he said, the Chinese propose work for the common good.  

The bishop said that “China is evolving very well,” adding that “you cannot think that the China of today is the China [during the pontificate of] John Paul II or the Russia of the Cold War.”

In October 2017, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China criticized the country’s human-rights practices.

The commission condemned “the Chinese government and Communist Party’s continued efforts to silence dissent, criminalize activities of human-rights lawyers, control civil society, suppress religious activity, and restrict the operations of foreign media outlets, businesses and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) over the past 12 months.”

“Nothing good happens in the dark,” U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said in an October statement on China. “That is why the administration should shine a light on the Chinese government’s failures to abide by universal standards, shine a light on the cases of tortured and abused political prisoners, shine a light on China’s unfair trade practices and still-coercive population-control policies.”