The reason behind their arrest remains unclear but the tourists, including nine Britons and one Indian, detained at Ordos airport in Inner Mongolia on July 10 were linked to the South Africa-based charity, Gift of the Givers.

"Nine British nationals, and two British and South African dual nationals, have been detained in northern China. Consular staff have visited the group to provide assistance and we are liaising with Chinese authorities," a Foreign Office spokesperson said today.

According to 'Gift of the Givers', the tour operator realised something was wrong on Sunday, 48 hours after the arrests, and discovered that the holidaymakers had been detained after travelling to the airport.

 "This was supposed to be a tour to explore ancient China; a planned 47 days journey for ten South Africans, nine Britons and one Indian national. A tour that went horribly wrong on Friday, July 10, when they were arrested at Erdos Airport, Inner Mongolia, at 9.40 am local time," the group said.

A team from the South African Embassy and the British Embassy met with the Chinese Foreign Ministry officials this morning, it stated yesterday, adding that 11 of the 20 had been released but would remain in detention without being charged until flights out of China could be booked for them. The remaining nine - three Britons, five South Africans and one Indian, are being held without charge at a detention centre.

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