A proposed deployment of a U.S. missile defence system into Seoul has forced China to expel 32 South Korean Christian missionaries most of whom have worked in northeastern Yanji region near the border with North Korea for three decades.
The action by China was carried out amid diplomatic tension between the two countries over the planned deployment.
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.
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 according to a South Korean government official who pleaded anonymity, there are no indications of a direct link between the expulsions and tension over THAAD.
“There was no official explanation from China,” he said. “There is no confirmation that it is related to THAAD.”
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