A human rights group says 200 police officers broke up a Christmas Mass Friday at an underground Catholic church in eastern China.

The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy says a priest was arrested during the raid in Cangnan county in Zhejiang province.

The center says police tore down a stage, seats and an entrance gate the group had erected, scattering about 2,000 worshipers. The rights group said a 70-year-old priest (Wang Zhongfa) was arrested.

China allows religious activity only in government-controlled churches, temples and mosques, but millions of people belong to unauthorized underground or house churches.

Beijing says it protects freedom of religion, but the government has stepped up a crackdown against religious groups outside its control.