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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 05:39 GMT 06:39 UK
Bishop arrested in China
Chinese catholics
The official church does not recognise Papal authority
The Vatican says that a bishop of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China, Joseh Jiang Ming Yuan, has been arrested by the Chinese authorities.

It says that the bishop of Zhao Xian, in Hebei province, was arrested last month after he was elevated to his new position, without the official Chinese authorisation.

The Vatican news agency, Fides, says that there were witnesses to the arrest and describes it as a new chapter in the campaign by the Beijing government to completely eliminate the unofficial Catholic Church.

Two Catholic churches exist in China. The state-run Patriotic Catholic Association, a church which does not recognise the Pope's authority, says it has more than 70 bishops and 4 million members.

The Vatican says 8 million Chinese are loyal to the Pope and worship in secret.

Papal visit

China said in June this year that it would accept a visit from the Pope, as long as key issues concerning the status of Taiwan and diplomatic relations are resolved first.

Pope John Paul II has made it clear that he wants to visit China but a papal visit is only possible to a country that has diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

At present the Holy See has had no diplomatic relations with China since it closed its Beijing embassy - known as a nunciature - in 1951.

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20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
China sets conditions for papal visit
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