China says bishop selection does not breach religious rights

China says restricting the Vatican's control over the appointment of bishops does not infringe upon Chinese believers' religious freedom.

The remark during a State Council briefing Tuesday comes as Beijing and the Holy See are negotiating an historic agreement over the selection of bishops in China.

The deal has spurred accusations that the Vatican is giving away too much to Beijing after asserting its independence for nearly seven decades since relations were severed.

An official responsible for religious affairs said Tuesday that China's religious groups cannot be controlled by "foreign forces," adding that he disagrees that not giving the Holy See "complete control" over bishop appointments breaches religious rights.

A Vatican-ordained "underground" bishop not recognized by the government was temporarily removed from his southern Chinese parish last week.