Pope flies over China and sends message to President Xi

As he flew over China’s airspace on his way to Korea, Pope Francis sent a telegram to President Xi Jinping.

Soon after crossing into Chinese airspace on August 14, the Pope dispatched the message which read: “I extend the best wishes to your excellency and your fellow citizens, and I invoke the divine blessings of peace and well-being upon the nation.”

The Pope traditionally sends a message to the leaders of countries he flies over.

But the case of China is a special one.

The last time a pope traveled to East Asia, when St. John Paul II flew to the Philippines in 1995, Chinese authorities denied permission to fly over their territory, forcing the papal plane into a long detour.

This time, Beijing allowed Pope Francis to fly over China.

The gesture is significant, particularly in light of the poor relations between China and the Holy See.

These have hit a low in recent years after Chinese authorities placed a Catholic bishop under house arrest.

Pope Francis is in Korea for five days.

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