China has arrested 20 foreign tourists who were traveling the country as part of a trip sponsored by a South Africa-based religious humanitarian organization, the group said Wednesday.
In a Facebook post, the Gift of the Givers organization said the 10 South Africans, nine Britons, and one Indian national were arrested at the Erdos Airport in China's Inner Mongolia on Friday.
Eleven of the tourists have been released, the statement said, adding nine others remain detained without charge for watching unspecified propaganda videos.
"The Chinese, now trying to find reasons for the detention suggested that some members were linked to a terror group, to a banned organization, to watching propaganda videos in their hotel room," the statement said.
The disaster relief agency, which says it has worked in 41 countries, says the tourists had no terror links and no criminal record in their country, but were part of a 47-day tour "to explore ancient China."
South African and British Embassy officials are meeting with Chinese foreign ministry officials to resolve the matter, the group said. Chinese officials have not commented on the detention.
China tightly regulates foreign missionary and, increasingly, foreign charity-based activities. Beijing also has arrested and charged Uighur Muslims and others who watched or shared videos deemed inappropriate by the government.
The British Embassy cited a British Foreign Office a statement that said nine Britons and two dual British-South African nationals had been detained in northern China and that it was “seeking further clarification” on the reason. It said British consular staff members had visited the group and were talking with Chinese authorities.
The embassy said six of those detained were likely to be deported soon.
Some material for this report came from the Associated Press.