Beijing expels hundreds of South Korean pastors and missionaries
Churches are closed and communities disbanded. The crackdown comes ahead of new regulations on religion slated to come into effect on 1st February 2018. The authorities have not provided clear reasons for the measures.
Shenyang (AsiaNews/Yonhap) – The authorities in three provinces in northeastern China have expelled hundreds of South Korean religious people and closed down their churches over the past year. The crackdown against religious activities came ahead of new regulations slated for 1st February 2018.
From late last year to the first half of this year, the authorities in the three provinces – Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang – expelled about a thousand South Korean pastors and missionaries, resulting in the disbandment of most local South Korean religious communities.
In Changchun, the capital of Jilin Province, all South Korean churches, were shut down at the start of this month.
Chinese authorities have offered no clear reasons for the measures taken against South Korean religious people and Churches.
Between December 2016 and January 2017, at least 32 Protestant missionaries were deported to South Korea from northeast China.
They were involved in evangelisation as well as helping North Korean refugees face the dangerous trek across the Yalu River, which separates China from North Korea.
Because of their support for North Korean deserters, some South Korean Christians were urged to return home to avoid forced repatriation.
The State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) announced new regulations on religious activities last month.
Their aim is to crush underground Chinese Christian communities and stifle official ones, as well as prevent external missions. Strict conditions will also be placed on foreign religious personnel.
According to the new regulations, only control under religious affairs offices will make religion livable and acceptable.
President Xi Jinping made the same point during his speech at the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress, earlier this month.