Officials from China’s communist government have expelled dozens of South Korean Christian missionaries following a series of police raids on church groups.
According to a recent report from Asianews, authorities arrested four missionaries and deported at least 32 more last week as part of an ongoing crackdown against Christian evangelizing. The missionaries had been working in the northeast Yanji region of the country, providing assistance to fugitives fleeing North Korea.
Dozens of South Korean Christian missionaries had traveled to China in past months and along with preaching the Christian gospel, they sought to help defectors navigate the perilous journey across the Yalu River, which separates China and North Korea.
The South Korean government in Seoul has confirmed reports that some Korean missionaries had been arrested in China, the Breibart website reported. Some of the missionaries had been working in China for decades.
Although foreign missionary work is illegal in China, local authorities have often turned a blind eye to evangelizing efforts by South Korean missionaries, taking advantage of the free humanitarian service they provide as well as the substantial bribes paid in order to avoid prosecution.
In recent years, however, China’s President Xi Jinping has tightened government control over religious activity in the country, often targeting Christians.