One of the hardest parts of living and working in China is the opacity by which the local and national governments operate in China. It is often unclear which laws they follow, since often even the Chinese constitution is not followed when both Chinese citizens and foreigners are involved with the law.

Jail in China

Now we hear bad news from The Guardian that 20 foreign travelers were detained for more than 3 days in northeastern China, and the Chinese government has not yet formally announced why these travelers were detained.

The travelers appear to be part of an African NGO called Gift of Givers that seems to have Islamic roots. From their Facebook page they explain:

Family members till now, four days later, have had no communication with those detained. The Chinese, now trying to find reasons for the detention suggested that some members were linked to a terror group, to a banned organisation, to watching propaganda videos in their hotel room. Ironically, one of the arrested is an MK veteran of the Luthuli detachment who spent 27 years in exile. DIRCO was contacted on Sunday and immediately consular services were provided both in South Africa and China. A team from the South African Embassy and the British Embassy met with the Chinese Foreign Ministry officials this morning.

The Chinese have now agreed to release 11 out of the 20 but they will remain in detention without being charged until flights can be found for them out of China. At present 17 July is the earliest. The other 9 are being held without charge at a detention centre on the accusation that they were watching propaganda videos. They are 5 South Africans, 3 Britons and 1 Indian national. Of the 5 South Africans being held, 3 including the MK member are direct relatives of Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom. Salim Aziz Joosub, Shameel’s brother, is CEO of Capital and Financial Brokers. Whilst the South Africans languish in detention without charge, the Chinese government is hosting a South African State visit. The families thank the South African government for their unwavering support and call upon the Chinese government to release the detainees immediately. These individuals have no terror links, no criminal record in their country and include Dr Feroz Suliman, a general surgeon at Waterfall Hospital, and his wife, Dr Shehnaaz Mohamed, also a medical doctor.