China continues church crackdown
China has arrested a leading Roman Catholic bishop as the Government continues a crackdown on underground churches and sects, a religious rights group says.
Wei Jingyi, the underground bishop of Qiqihar in China's Heilongjiang province, was seized on March 5.
The US-based Cardinal Kung Foundation says he was arrested at a toll booth on his way back from Harbin airport.
Fr Wei had been to the airport to pick up two foreign friends.
A staff member at the Government-approved Harbin Catholic Church confirmed the arrest.
"I heard of the arrest, but I don't know the details," Li Yingchun, a staff member, said.
He says the priest of the church, Liu Tingsong, knew the details but Mr Liu refused to comment.
Harbin police have also refused to comment.
Fr Wei was ordained a priest in 1985 and was consecrated a bishop in 1995.
He has been in and out of labour camps for years and was last arrested in September 2002.
"With the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights coming up in Geneva, the world community should take note that the persecution of the underground Roman Catholic Church by the Chinese Government is obviously still ongoing," said foundation president Joseph Kung.
He says approximately six underground bishops and 20 priests are currently in jail in China.
Chinese authorities have carried out what some critics consider one of the harshest crackdowns against underground Christians in the past year with dozens of churches demolished and many worshippers arrested.