The Vatican has asked China's state-controlled Catholic Church to halt the ordination of a bishop who has not been approved by Pope Benedict XVI.
Father Ma Yingling is to be ordained as bishop of Kunming on Sunday.
The Chinese Church does not recognise the Vatican's right to name bishops, although recent appointments have been made with the agreement of both sides.
The request to postpone the ordination was made by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen.
"Trying to force the clergymen to carry out the ordination ceremony before the (Roman Catholic) Church's approval would be deliberately wrecking China-Vatican negotiations," he told Hong Kong radio.
Cardinal Zen has been at the forefront of recent efforts to improve relations between Beijing and the Holy See.
China has both a state-sanctioned Roman Catholic church - but also a bigger, unofficial church that is loyal to the Pope.
According to China's authorities the state-sanctioned church has about four million members, while the Vatican says the Roman Catholic Church there has some 10 million worshippers.
China has said it would like better relations with the Vatican, but insists that first the Holy See must cut its diplomatic links with Taiwan.