SHIJIAZHUANG, China (CNS) -- About 100 seminarians from Hebei's major seminary stood quietly for 14 hours in front of the provincial Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau, protesting what they see as the political appointment of the seminary's deputy director.

The group held placards with slogans demanding a written promise to revoke the appointment of the official, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

After the seminarians had turned in for the night Dec. 2, officials and plainclothes policemen traveled to the seminary in the hope of persuading priests to compromise. On learning of the official visit, all seminarians got out of bed and asked the officials to leave.

On Dec. 3, a dozen officials returned to negotiate with Bishop Peter Fang Jianping of Tangshan, a member of the seminary board, and other diocesan representatives.

By late afternoon, the local officials were talking with the students. The seminarians are demanding that a written statement be read out to teachers and seminarians and for an official copy of the statement as proof of its authenticity.

While the officials verbally agreed to revoke the appointment and read out the statement, they refused to produce the authenticated statement or a photocopy.

The controversy began Nov. 11, when officials of the Hebei Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau announced during a seminary visit that their section chief, Tang Zhaojun, would become the deputy rector and a teacher for a political class.