Dec 11, 2020 - World

Chinese authorities detain Bloomberg News staff member

Illustration of a pair of hands in yellow handcuffs over a red background reminiscent of the flag of China

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese authorities have detained Haze Fan, a Chinese national and Bloomberg News staff member working for their Beijing bureau, on suspicion of national security endangerment, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

The big picture: Chinese citizens working for Western media companies have been warned by officials to "watch their step," according to the Washington Post. Western media companies are facing worsening conditions in China, and many American journalists have been expelled from the country.

  • Earlier this year, after the U.S. State Department imposed strict limits for Chinese nationals in the U.S. on journalist visas, Beijing expelled several U.S. correspondents from China, reducing global visibility into China at a critical time, as Axios' Bethany Allen Ebrahimian reported.

The state of play: Bloomberg said Fan was last in contact with editors on Monday, but was later seen being escorted out from her apartment building by "plain clothes security officials."

  • Bloomberg received confirmation on Thursday that Fan is being held on "suspicion of participating in activities endangering national security." The company had been in contact with Chinese government officials since Monday to receive information on Fan's whereabouts.
  • Fan began working for Bloomberg in 2017 and was previously with CNBC, CBS News, Al Jazeera and Thomson Reuters. She was focusing on China business topics, not political coverage, per WaPo.
  • According to Bloomberg, Chinese nationals are only allowed to work as news assistants for foreign news bureaus in China and cannot pursue independent reporting.

What they're saying: "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 jeopardize national security," Chinese authorities said.

  • "The case is currently under investigation. Ms. Fan’s legitimate rights have been fully ensured and her family has been notified," they continued.

Go deeper: Pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai charged under Hong Kong security law

Go deeper