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China has reacted cautiously to a bid by Pope Francis to open new dialogue with Beijing, with some officials quick to warn the Vatican not to "interfere" with the country's religion.
On his return flight from a five-day tour of South Korea, Francis said he was ready to go to China -- "For sure! Tomorrow!" -- after receiving a positive response to two goodwill telegrams he sent to President Xi Jinping as the pope flew over Chinese airspace.
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An exhibit of historic maps detailing Vietnam's maritime sovereignty of waters off their coast, recently disputed by China, has been canceled by government authorities.
Informed observers are speculating that the pope might add another destination to his first Asian trip -- one that would mark the voyage as truly historic.
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China recently deployed a deep sea oil rig and supporting vessels into waters long claimed by Vietnam, a move that angered Vietnamese bishops.
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