Chinese authorities have expelled more than 60 South Korean Christians for allegedly engaging in missionary activities.
A report said the expelled South Korean Christians were helping North Korean defectors in Jilin Province who were victimized by sex traffickers. However, local authorities reasoned that they were ordered to leave China because they violated the country's law on religion by participating in missionary activities, the Christian Broadcasting Network relays.
In a statement to a South Korean publication, one of the Christians who was arrested but was later set free described how China goes beyond more than just clamping down on illegal missionary activities.
"On the surface, China is restricting illegal mission activities, but they are also tracing bank accounts and investigating whether or not people helped North Korean defectors residing in China," the missionary told the South Korean newspaper.
Last month, China Aid released a summary of religious persecution in China for last year. Based on the report, the Communist Party started promoting the Sinicization of people's religious beliefs. While the previous administration of Jiang Zemin merely encouraged the mutual adaptation of socialism, current president Xi Jinping introduced the idea of pressuring religious groups into conforming to the government agenda.
In September, the Chinese government introduced a draft of the Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs, which is the focus of China Aid's report. As part of the changes to be implemented, various measures were enacted to force house churches to register under the state-run Christian organization Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
Christians are not the only religious group affected by the changes in the government's rules on religion. China has imposed a restriction on Muslims' hajj pilgrimage and has injected its own values including "patriotism, peace, the Chinese dream, moderation, morality, and good behavior" into Islamic teachings.
China has defended the restrictions by saying it has been targeted by religious extremist attacks. However, human rights advocates believe that the Communist Party is only using this reason to suppress religious practices.