A leading pastor in a Chinese province where authorities have been cracking down on churches has been barred from the pulpit and removed as head of the provincial state-sanctioned Protestant church association.

Monday's action in Zhejiang province against Joseph Gu Yuese followed his arrest last month on charges of embezzlement and other economic crimes.

Supporters say the case against Gu was drummed up in retribution for his public opposition to a campaign by Zhejiang officials to forcibly remove hundreds of rooftop crosses from churches.

Notices on the websites of the official provincial Christian Association and Three-Self Patriotic Movement said the charges against Gu required his removal, despite his case not having gone to trial.

Gu had been senior pastor at Chongyi Christian Church, one of China's largest.