China cracks down on 'Bible' sales amid Vatican deal talks
China appears to have banned the 'Bible' from being sold online or in large book stores, as Beijing and the Vatican negotiate a historic agreement.
Searches for the book on e-commerce platforms JD.com and Taobao brought up no results, while staff at one of Beijing's biggest book stores said they no longer sell it.
There are currently tensions between China and Rome over a landmark deal that observers believe is close to being signed.
It would give the Vatican more control over the appointment of bishops in China but has sparked concern among some Chinese Catholics who believe recognising Beijing's role in the Church would represent a betrayal of their faith.
China's ruling Communist Party is officially atheist, but the Chinese government recognises Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism.
Chinese leaders have called for increased efforts to "Sinocise" religion in comments seen as being part of a wider clampdown on Western ideas.
Christians in China have complained on social media that people are being prohibited from buying the 'Bible' online.
The websites of the huge Xinhua Book Stores in Beijing's Wangfujing and Xidan shopping districts also showed that the 'Bible' is not for sale.
A staff member at the Wangfujing said the 'Bible' had been removed from sale for some time. She did not know why.
Authorities in China have only confirmed that warnings have been issued to some online retailers.
The Chinese 'Global Times' newspaper said regulators "held talks" with JD.com "about selling illegal products, publications and other printed materials online."
The firm "had failed to regulate products and so caused a negative social impact", the regulators said.
On Monday, China released its first white paper on religious freedom in more than two decades. It pledged to protect religious freedom but also called on religions to adapt to a socialist society.