The British Embassy in Beijing says 11 Britons have been detained in northern China and that it is trying to find out why.

The embassy cited a British Foreign Office 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.

A South African disaster response agency, Gift of the Givers, says that those detained were part of a tour group of 20 people, comprising nine Britons, 10 South Africans and one Indian. It says they were detained last Friday in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, and that no reason was given at the time.

A press officer at the Ordos police bureau said the case was under investigation and declined to give any details.