China stops more than 100 Christians from boarding planes for overseas event
Chinese state security agents stop protestant Christians from boarding a plane in Shanghai to attend a training session in South Korea, Oct. 25, 2018. This photo provided by an activist shows the airport and the Chinese officers in action.
Authorities in China have slapped a travel ban on more than 100 Protestant Christians en route to a religious training event in South Korea, RFA has learned.
State security police at airports in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou issued the travel bans on the grounds that the would-be participants in a conference run by a U.S.-based Baptist church on Jeju Island were “likely to damage national security.”
Conference organizers the Institute of Leadership Research had invited more than 100 delegates from Protestant “house churches” not officially recognized by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
A Chinese Protestant pastor who was to have run the training program, but who declined to be identified, said the Chinese church members were turned back at the airport and refused permission to board their flights, including from Hong Kong.
They were then told to go home to receive a full explanation, he said.
“This training was sponsored by me, it was intended to train some underground church members,” the pastor added.
“But on Oct. 25, almost all the people who had signed up for the training were detained by state security agents in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong.”
“The reason given at the airports is that they may endanger national security,” he said. “As far as I know, the largest group of people were those stranded in Shanghai, and heavy economic losses were sustained.”
“We hope that the international community can support us because the government’s actions are really harsh,” the anonymous pastor emphasised.