Pakistan has identified the two Chinese nationals who were recently abducted and killed, allegedly by the Islamic State, as preachers, not teachers, setting off a wave of condemnation from Chinese media against South Korean proselytizing.
The couple were originally reported to be teaching Chinese at a language center in the city of Quetta near the Afghan border. On May 24th, they were abducted outside the center by armed militants posing as police officers. Last week, the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency claimed that its fighters had killed the pair.
Yesterday, Pakistan’s interior ministry confirmed that the two Chinese had been killed, while also adding that the pair — identified as 24-year-old Lee Zing Yang and 26-year-old Meng Li Si — had entered the country by posing as business people, but in fact had been working as missionaries, in violation of their visas, which had contributed to their abduction and murder. In a statement, the ministry accused the pair of pretending to learn Urdu from a Korean business owner in Quetta, when they were actually engaging in preaching.
“The Minister observed that it is highly unfortunate that a misuse of the terms of (the) business visa contributed to the unfortunate incident of abduction and subsequent murder of two innocent Chinese,” the ministry said, partially absolving itself from blame in the embarrassing incident which resulted in promises from Islamabad to provide extra protection for Chinese nationals in Pakistan.
While the Pakistani government failed to detail exactly what kind of preachers the two Chinese nationals were, the nationalistic Chinese tabloid, the Global Times, has published a report citing unnamed local sources which effectively charges zealous South Korean missionary organizations with the pair’s untimely death
The unconfirmed Global Times report alleges that the kidnapped couple were part of a group of 13 Chinese nationals who were brought to Quetta in November of last year by a South Korean who runs a school named “ARK.” While the school purports to be focused around teaching Urdu to young people, the report claims that its language education is merely a front for conducting religious activities.
According to the report, the foreign missionaries disturbed locals by visiting homes, playing Christian videos and inviting residents to take part in various relgious activities, eventually leading to two of the Chinese missionaires being kidnapped and the other 11 returning back home.
The Global Times ties the incident in with a “dangerous trend” of South Korean missionaries allegedly recruiting young Chinese to preach in Muslim countries where they put their lives at risk. The report has been widely shared on Chinese social media, including by the Weibo account of the Chinese Communist Youth League, which captioned its post by reminding followers that “If you meet Koreans like this, hide your soul,” according to the Korean newspaper, The Hankyoreh.
Back in February, China arrested four South Korean missionaries and deported 32 more among a wider crackdown on evangelism in the officially atheist country which was marked by police raids on churches. This latest tragic incident could now lead to more problems for South Korean preachers in China, just as relations between Beijing and Seoul appear to be beginning to thaw with South Korea’s decision to halt the deployment of the US-backed THAAD missile defense system.
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