Of course, cooperation with civil authority has always been what the Church has done throughout history. It was Christ who asked us to “render to Caesar what’s Caesar’s and to God what’s God’s.” That’s not the issue here. The issue here is the Church can only work off the list of nominees for bishops from a regime that has had a long history of brutality against humanity, and hostility against the Church. Did you know that, currently in China, there are interment camps for religious dissidents? This regime knows very well that if it controls the appointment of bishops, it controls the Catholic Church in China—a country of well over 1 billion inhabitants and of millions of Catholics. Furthermore, this has direct implications with other countries such as Laos, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea, etc… who have not respected freedom of religion and human rights. These countries have been watching closely the development between Rome and China. This may very well embolden their resolve against the future efforts of the Church.
It was St. Paul, himself, that Pope Benedict quoted in his letter to Chinese Catholics some years ago: “…On the same occasion, my venerable predecessor recalled that “the Bishop, a successor of the Apostles, is someone for whom Christ is everything: ‘For to me to live is Christ …’ (Phil 1:21). He must bear witness to this in all his actions. The Second Vatican Council teaches: ‘Bishops should devote themselves to their apostolic office as witnesses of Christ to all’ (Decree Christus Dominus, 11)” .
A bishop belongs wholly to Christ and the Church. He is to work with civil authority to ensure harmony and peace.