Chinese authorities have detained a Beijing-based Chinese news assistant for Bloomberg on what they said was suspicion of endangering national security, the U.S. financial news service Bloomberg said Friday.
Haze Fan, a Chinese citizen, was taken away by plainclothes security officers from her Beijing apartment on Monday, shortly after her last contact with her editors according to Bloomberg News.
Bloomberg said it has been seeking information about Fan’s whereabouts from the Chinese government and from China’s embassy in Washington, D.C.
It said its parent company, Bloomberg LP, was informed Thursday that she was being held on suspicion of endangering national security, a vaguely defined charge that can lead to lengthy detention with little recourse to legal assistance.
It quoted a Chinese government statement as saying Fan was detained by the Beijing branch of the National Security Bureau “according to relevant Chinese law on suspicion of engaging in criminal activities that jeopardize national security.”
“We are very concerned for her, and have been actively speaking to Chinese authorities to better understand the situation. We are continuing to do everything we can to support her while we seek more information,” a Bloomberg spokesperson was quoted as saying in the report.
Fan began working for Bloomberg in 2017 after stints with a number of other foreign news organizations in China, the company said.
China permits Chinese citizens to work only as translators, researchers and assistants for foreign news organizations, not as registered journalists able to report independently.
China’s own media are almost entirely state owned and tightly controlled, and the country has long been one of the leading jailers of journalists.
China has detained news assistants in the past over reports that angered the ruling Communist Party, and authorities have also sought to punish foreign media more generally by limiting their operations, expelling journalists or issuing them only short-term visas.
China this year expelled journalists from The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other American outlets amid complaints over content and moves by the U.S. to send home dozens of Chinese journalists working for state media.
Bloomberg saw its business in financial information suffer in China several years ago in apparent retaliation for its reporting on the personal financial dealings of leading Chinese officials. (Source: Independent UK)