China expels S. Korean missionaries amid U.S. missile defense tension

China expels S. Korean missionaries amid U.S. missile defense tension

PanARMENIAN.Net - China has expelled 32 South Korean Christian missionaries, a Korean government official said on Saturday, Feb. 11, amid diplomatic tension between the two countries over the planned deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in the South, Reuters reports.

The 32 were based in China's northeastern Yanji region near the border with North Korea, many of whom had worked there more than a decade, South Korean media have reported.

South Korea's foreign ministry said on Friday it briefed Christian groups on the case of the missionaries, adding that they were expelled in January.

The ministry advised the groups on the importance of complying with the laws and customs of the areas where they work, it said.

On Saturday, a South Korean missionary in Seoul who insisted on anonymity told Reuters that four people, including a Korean missionary and a Korean-American pastor, were apprehended by Chinese police in a Yanji hotel on Feb. 9.

The South Korean official who talked about the 32 expulsions confirmed that one Korean man, whom he did not identify, had been arrested in China for possible immigration violations.

In South Korea, China is widely believed to be retaliating against Seoul's plan to host the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system of the U.S. military, against the threat of the missile attack from North Korea.

But there was no indication of a direct link between the expulsions and tension over THAAD, said the official.

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