Is emerging China-Vatican relationship an unholy alliance?

At its own glacial pace, the world’s smallest nation state -- the Vatican -- may be opening a new front in the West’s engagement with China. 

Half a world from each other, the two make an unlikely pair. The Vatican is the seat of the Catholic Church; China is an atheist state.

Vatican City is also miniscule: measuring just 0.16 square miles, it’s less than a third the size of the Forbidden City complex in the Chinese capital. The Vatican’s population of 764 people wouldn’t even half fill a single subway train in Beijing. 

Yet it appears to be a priority for both sides to establish diplomatic relations for the first time.