The group’s mobile phones were confiscated and they were unable to alert their families or embassies for 48 hours.

“Of the five South Africans being held, three [including the MK member] are direct relatives of Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom”.

They were part of a 20-strong group detained at Ordos Ejin Horo airport in the Inner Mongolia province of northern China, the Daily Star reports.

Also detained are Salim Aziz Joosub, the brother of Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub, and husband and wife doctors Feroz Suliman and Shehnaaz Mohamed.

Sooliman said the Chinese had agreed to release 11 of the 20 tourists, but they would remain in detention until flights out of China could be arranged.

“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”, the NGO said.

“China is ready to strengthen political trust and win-win cooperation with South Africa, enhance coordination in global and regional affairs, and work with other African countries to set an example for South-South cooperation”, Li said.

“The families thank the South African government for their unwavering support and call upon the Chinese government to release the detainees immediately”, the charity said in a statement. “These individuals have no terror links (and) no criminal record”.

Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of GoTG, said he understood the arrests were carried out by airport police after an order from the national police headquarters in Beijing.

China has in recent years adopted a hard line against apparent Islamic jihadists.

“The group was visiting China on a 47-day journey when they were arrested with no reasons given for the arrest”.

LONDON Eleven Britons, including two with dual British-South African nationality, have been arrested in northern China, the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.

Consular staff visited the group who were arrested in Inner Mongolia, an FCO spokesman said, adding that they were “seeking further clarification” on why they had been detained.