The arrests made between May 5 and 15. Five have returned to Japan, at least three after being deported. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs: foreigners must comply with the law. Beijing's new crackdown on the religious activities of foreigners in China.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Chinese authorities have arrested 21 Japanese citizens for alleged missionary activities. An source informed in relations between the two countries gave the news yesterday. In China, the religious activities of foreigners are regulated by a strict law banning proselytism and unauthorized religious meetings.
The authorities arrested members of the Christian group between May 5 and 15 in five different provinces - Hebei, Henan, Guizhou, Shanxi and Liaoning - as well as in the autonomous region of Ningxia.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that five of them have returned to Japan. According to the source, three of them were deported and others are likely to remain in the custody of the Beijing authorities. Their arrest seems not to be the first: another 19 Japanese Christians were held in China last November, and later deported to Japan. Tokyo is following developments closely and asks Beijing authorities to treat their citizens appropriately. For his part, Lu Kang, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he was not informed of the details, reiterating that "China is a state where the law is enforced" and that for this reason the legal rights of all parties will be protected . "But - he adds - even foreigners must respect Chinese laws and not commit crimes".
Beijing imposes strict regulations on religious activities of foreigners. The regulations in force since 1991 prohibit all missionary activity and any religious gatherings that have not been previously authorized. Moreover, since the beginning of May, the Chinese authorities are revising the relevant regulations, announcing a further crackdown on the religious life of foreigners in China.