The Islamic State (IS) group has killed two young Chinese in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities say the two had entered the country on business visas but later began ‘preaching’ Christianity illegally.
The incident has caused sorrow among Chinese Protestants. The two apparently belonged to a South Korea-based community.
Chinese state media, in particular the Global Times, have warned young people about the danger they face if they convert to Christianity.
Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali said that Lee Zingyang, 24, and Meng Lisi, 26, had entered Pakistan on business visas. Instead of doing business, they had gone to Quetta, where they pretended to learn Urdu from a Korean business owner but “were actually engaged in preaching forbidden proselytizing”.
The two were abducted by IS militants on 24 May. Reports about their disappearance soon spread on Chinese Protestant social media. After a few days, unconfirmed reports suggested that the two had been released, that they were held at the Chinese embassy, and that they were returning home. One asked readers not to pray for them anymore!
On 8 June, the IS-controlled Amaq news agency reported that the young man and the young women had been executed. IS released a video confirming their death.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar on Monday said that Pakistan would step up its review of visas for Chinese nationals.
China is involved in a project in Baluchistan as part of its ‘One belt one road’ strategy, building a harbour and roads. On several occasions in the past, Chinese workers and managers have been the victims of “terrorist” violence.
The execution of the two Chinese increases the risks of the project. Some newspapers are now suggesting that the killings are part of an attempt to boycott the “good ties” between China and Pakistan.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on Monday that China is still coordinating with Pakistan. Whilst Beijing has not received official confirmation from Pakistan of the deaths of its two citizens, it “firmly opposes all kinds of terrorism and extreme violence against civilians, and supports Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism and safeguard domestic security,” Lu noted,
The Global Times ha used these two violent deaths to warn Chinese students interested in Christianity about the risk of being “used” as missionaries abroad and of dying as a result of this.
In an article published two days ago, the newspaper, which is linked to the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily, spoke to “an anonymous university student who has participated in several South Korean underground missionary events”.
“Normally these missionaries will try to attract young Chinese students who come to churches because” they “want to know about Christianity. Some of them will offer free airfare tickets, accommodation and meals if Chinese teenagers go to South Korea, and as they [missionaries] normally have a legal cover, like being an exchange scholar or postgraduate student, many Chinese students decide to go with them,” the anonymous student said.
“Some Chinese voluntarily join in the dangerous missionary activities in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq after being converted by South Koreans,” he added.
“South Korean missionaries have been conducting underground missionary activities in China since at least a decade ago. Many missionary organisations are even sponsored by the (South Korean) intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Service,” the Global Times quoted an expert as saying.
A survey conducted some years ago at Shanghai and Beijing universities found that about 60 per cent of young Chinese university students would like to learn about Christianity.