Proselytizing by foreigners is officially illegal in China, and China is no longer turning a blind eye.
Paul Yoo, a South Korean missionary, had lived untroubled by authorities for years in northeastern Chinese city. The knock on Mr. Yoo’s door marked the beginning of a quiet forced evacuation of foreign missionaries, including hundreds of South Koreans, some of whom have worked to train and convert Chinese, and others who have helped Christian defectors from North Korea.
Those who remain live in mounting fear that they will be next, as China’s new president Xi Jinping seeks to rid the country of foreign influences and effectively nationalize Christian churches to bring them under state control.
“This crackdown, and the people being deported, has intensified starting from May,” said Rev. Peter Jung, director of Justice For North Korea, which supports North Korean defectors. And, he said, “the number of missionaries getting arrested has increased.”
The Chinese pressure on missionaries, however, extends far beyond the North Korean border, suggesting Beijing’s chief motivation is concern about religion.
“One of the aims of Xi Jinping’s policies is to get rid of all missionaries by 2017,” said one missionary who continues to work in north-eastern China.
Such a claim is impossible to verify. Mr. Xi, the Chinese president, has publicly said no such thing. But fears in the missionary community of a coming clean sweep offer a window into the degree of alarm that has spread. The missionary asked The Globe to reveal no potentially identifying details, including his age or nationality, how much time he and his wife have spent in China or the nature of their work there.
[Globe and Mail]