Human rights groups have expressed concern over the whereabouts of a Chinese bishop who was arrested last week. There has been no word from Bishop Wei Jingyi, 44, since he was taken into police custody in Quiqihar, northwest China on 9 September. Bishop Wei, who once served as secretary to the Chinese Bishops' conference loyal to Rome, has already been imprisoned several times. From 1987 to 1989 and from 1990 to 1992 he was kept in forced labour camps. A spokesman from The Cardinal Kung Foundation, which monitors the treatment of the church in China said: "Currently, every one of the 50 bishops of the underground Roman Catholic Church is either arrested, and placed under house arrest, put under surveillance or in hiding". He said the arrest was being seen as a sign that China is tightening its noose on the spiritual leaders of eight million Chinese Catholics the Vatican estimates are loyal to the Pope. Around five million Chinese belong to the state-sponsored 'official' Catholic church which broke off relations with the Vatican around 50 years ago. Communist China does officially endorse religious freedom but in practice only recognises certain state-sponsored organisations. Thousands of people belonging to indigenous faiths, including Buddhism and Falun Gong are also living under house arrest, or in prison and labour camps.
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