The Chinese crackdown on perceived dissent took another familiar turn when 20 Christians of a protestant sect were arrested even as they prepared to hold an Easter service in Beijing.

A leader of the Shouwang Church, who is under house arrest, said the arrested believers were taken to various police stations.

The worshippers had gathered for an outdoor service on the Easter day as they did not have a place of their own BBC reported.

Most church denominations are not authorized by the Communist government in China. Of around 70 million Christians in China only around 20 million attend government-approved churches. Others go to what are called house churches, which the government views with suspicion.

The Shouwang members, who number about 1,000, have always been under the scanner of the government agencies for their alleged dissident stance. More than 100 Shouwang members had been detained earlier this month. While most were released, some of them are still in detention.

Christian organizations have accused the government of heavily cracking down on religious freedom.