Pope Francis takes a sip of "Mate", a traditional South American infused drink, with Argentinian soldiers of the United Nation during the weekly general audience at St Peter's square on February 3, 2016 at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI
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Pope Francis came under fire Wednesday after lavishing praise on China in a move widely seen as part of Vatican moves to improve relations with Beijing.The Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with China since 1951, with the rupture having come only two years after the founding of the People's Republic.Francis was given an easier ride in the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire by Stefania Falasca, who praised the pontiff for applying "the geopolitics of mercy" to the challenges raised by China's growing weight in the world.Francis' latest interview suggests the former camp has the upper hand for now – and they will have been encouraged by China's guardedly positive reaction.
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