The Chinese government is currently running its largest expulsion campaign of foreign missionaries since 1954, reports an organization that works with the persecuted Church in China.
In a July 10 press release, the China Aid Association stated a central government-directed campaign to expel suspected foreign missionaries has been ongoing since February 2007. The groups says this is the largest expulsion since 1954, when the Chinese Communist government expelled all foreign religious workers after taking power in 1949.
According to reliable China Aid sources and collaborated reports by at least five different mission agencies, over 100 foreigners accused of being involved in illegal religious activities in China have been expelled or forced to leave this year between April and June.
Sources inside the Chinese government informed China Aid that the government launched a massive expulsion campaign of foreign Christians, encoded Typhoon No. 5, in February 2007. This campaign is believed to be part of the “anti-infiltration” efforts to prevent foreign Christians from engaging in mission activities before the Beijing Olympics next year.
Most of those expelled are citizens of the United States, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, Australia, and Israel. They were expelled when they were either working or visiting in Xinjiang, Beijing, Tibet, or Shandong.
China Aid says an American who had been working in Xinjiang for 10 years, and wants to remain anonymous, reported that over 60 foreign religious workers were expelled from Xinjiang alone. Some of the workers had been serving the local people for 15 to 18 years. As well, at least 15 Christian couples from foreign countries were expelled from Beijing in May.
According to China Aid’s interviews with some of the expelled Americans, Chinese authorities confiscated their passports for 2 to 7 days and treated them professionally while they were interrogated. However, they were not allowed to have access to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, a direct violation of U.S.-China consulate protection agreements. Some will not be allowed to return to China for 5 years.
The Chinese government refuses to recognize foreign missionary status in China so many missionaries choose to work in the education or business sectors as ways to stay in China.
“Given the significant contribution to the Chinese people made by those expelled foreigners, this campaign is certainly misguided and counter-productive,” said China Aid president Bob Fu.
China Aid is calling on the Chinese government to correct this course of action and allow these workers back into China.