China’s security services have detained an employee at Bloomberg News’ Beijing bureau on suspicion of endangering national security.
Bloomberg News announced on Friday that Haze Fan had been detained on Monday after being taken from her apartment by plainclothes security officials.
The media group said Bloomberg LP, its parent company, had “on Thursday received confirmation that Fan is being held on suspicion of participating in activities endangering national security”.
Over the past year, China’s government has grown significantly more hostile to overseas media in the country, expelling a record 17 foreign journalists.
At least another 12 foreign journalists have received visas with truncated terms, sometimes for just one month, according to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.
The police and security services have increased their harassment and surveillance of international journalists who are foreign passport holders, as well as colleagues who are Chinese nationals. Chinese nationals are forbidden by law from performing full journalistic duties for foreign media.
In September, two Australian journalists fled China following an extraordinary diplomatic stand-off. Bill Birtles, the ABC’s correspondent in Beijing, and Michael Smith, of the Australian Financial Review, sheltered under Australian diplomatic protection for five days after receiving a midnight visit from security services.
Ms Fan, a Chinese citizen, began working for Bloomberg in 2017 and was previously with CNBC, CBS News, Al Jazeera and Thomson Reuters, according to Bloomberg.
Chinese nationals working for foreign media do not sign contracts with their media organisations but with a sub-department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Chinese citizen Ms Fan has been detained by the Beijing National Security Bureau according to relevant Chinese law on suspicion of engaging in criminal activities that jeopardise national security,” Bloomberg cited Chinese authorities as saying.
Bloomberg said it had “sought information on Fan’s whereabouts from the Chinese government and the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC”.
“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,” said Bloomberg.