South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday China has expelled 32 South Korean Christian missionaries amid a dispute about a missile defense system, Reuters reports.

The group was based in Yanji in northeastern China near the border with North Korea. Many of the missionaries were working in the region for more than ten years.

The reason for the expulsion is unclear, but there are speculations that China is retaliating against South Korea. South Korea has just agreed to host a US-owned missile system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), against the threat of a missile attack from North Korea.

Officials of South Korea have been briefing Christian organizations about the missionaries’ expulsion. They have advised the groups on the importance of complying with the laws and customs of the areas where they work.

The reason for the expulsion is unclear, but there are speculations that China is retaliating against South Korea. South Korea has just agreed to host a US-owned missile system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), against the threat of a missile attack from North Korea.

China believes that South Korea’s decision to support the US military will destabilize the region further. However, an official from South Korea denies this.

“There was no official explanation from China,” the official said. “There is no confirmation that it is related to THAAD.”

Another possible reason for the expulsion may be China’s restrictions on Christianity. The country prohibits the practice or sharing of faith outside of state-recognized religious institutions.

Sources:
Reuters. (2017). Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-china-idUSKBN15Q042

Premier. (2017). Premier. https://www.premier.org.uk/News/World/China-kicks-out-32-Christian-missionaries-amid-missile-row

Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest in reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at Joyce@onechristianvoice.com.

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