Scores of South Korean Protestant missionaries have been expelled from northeastern China following a series of raids by the police.
South Korean government today confirmed that some missionaries were
According to some analysts, these expulsions – which are quite unusual – are connected with rising tensions between Beijing and Seoul over the latter’s decision to deploy an anti-missile system in co-operation with the United States.
At least 32 Christian missionaries were forced out of China in
December and January.
The Christians were evangelising but also helping
fugitives from North Korea to make the perilous journey across the Yalu
River, which separates China from North Korea.
Although China bans foreign missionary work, local authorities have
always turned a blind eye on South Koreans, partly because rescuing
defectors reduces social problems, but because of substantial bribes to
However, since new rules on religious activities were adopted last
October, Christian communities have come under tighter control.
In addition, Seoul’s decision to install the Terminal High Altitude
Area Defence (THAAD) platform has raised fears in Beijing that the
anti-missile system is aimed not only at Pyongyang, but also at China.
In the past few months China has adopted an array of retaliatory
measures against South Korean products. Concerts and appearances by
famous South Korean actors and singers on Chinese TV have also been
Meanwhile, the South Korean Foreign Ministry announced this morning
that a South Korean missionary, identified only by his surname Kim, was
arrested two days ago in Yanji, near the Chinese border, on charges of
violating immigration laws.
Radio Free Asia earlier reported that Chinese authorities
had arrested four Christian missionaries in Yanji, including a
Korean-American and two Chinese.