Ten South Africans, nine Britons and an Indian were arrested by Chinese police in Inner Mongolia last Friday on suspicion of “watching terrorist propaganda videos”, according to Global Times, the Communist Party’s official newspaper.

The 20 tourists, who were on a 47-day trip to China, were taken away from the Ordos Ejin Horo Airport, Global Times said on Wednesday.

Ordos Airport. Photo: Ngchikit.

Eleven of them were released on Tuesday after diplomats from the British and South African embassies in China met with Chinese Foreign Ministry officials, according to Gift of the Givers Foundation (GOTG), an African humanitarian organisation which is in touch with some of the families of the arrested.

Five South Africans, three Britons and an Indian remain in detention without charge as of Wednesday, according to the GOTG.

The 20 tourists were not given reasons why they were arrested, a message posted on GOTG’s Facebook said.

“No reasons were given for the arrest; cellphones were confiscated, there was no access to the embassies of origin nor to their families. They were detained without charge with no access to any communication nor to legal representation,” the message posted on Tuesday night said.

Chinese Government Detains 10 South Africans whilst hosting South African State VisitThis was supposed to be a tour to…

Posted by Gift of the Givers on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Global Times report said some of the members in the tourist group “watched propaganda videos from a certain terror group in their hotel rooms”, without offering more details.

Three of the South Africans being held are relatives of Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom, an African telecommunications company, GOTG said. Others include two doctors from a South African hospital, who are a couple.

A report by The Guardian cited the British Foreign Office as saying 11 Britons, including two with dual British-South African nationality were arrested in China.

British diplomats are providing assistance to the arrested and liaising with Chinese authorities to find out the reasons of their arrests, the report said.

Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.