Added Reports of Arrests in China

( [email protected] ) Mar 09, 2004 08:19 AM EST

BEIJING – A Roman Catholic bishop was arrested during his visit to Harbin, the capital of northeastern China, a U.S.-based monitoring group reported Tuesday, March 9.

While the Cardinal Kung Foundation said the Bishop Wei Jingyi was seized at a highway toll booth after traveling to Harbin to meet two foreigners on March 5, the local authorities denied all charges and instead blamed it on “anti-Chinese powers.”

"It must be some anti-Chinese powers publishing distorted information during the congress," said Yao Shu, an official at the press office of the Qiqihar police headquarters.

Since Friday, when the China’s National People’s Congress began its annual meeting, several of humanitarian watch groups went on alert as authorities “cracked down” on Christian activists by dispatching 1,000 officers.

According to the Hong-Kong-based Human Rights in China group, Hua Huiqi, a house church leader and activist on forced evictions, was beaten alongside his wife, also on March 5.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation reports that there are about six Roman Catholic bishops and 20 priests in Chinese prisons. Wei, ordained a bishop in 1995, has already served two terms in Chinese labor camps, from 1987 to 1989 and 1990 to 1992. His most recent arrest was in September 2002.