Chinese authorities detain Bloomberg news assistant

Chinese citizen Haze Fan has been suspected of endangering national security.

U.S. financial news service Bloomberg said on Friday that Chinese authorities have detained one of its Beijing-based news assistants on what they said was suspicion of endangering national security.

Bloomberg reported that Chinese citizen Haze Fan was seen being taken from her apartment building accompanied by security officers in plain clothes at about noon on Monday, shortly after her last contact with her editors.

It quoted a Chinese government statement as saying Ms. 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 jeopardise national security. China permits Chinese citizens to work only as translators, researchers and assistants for foreign news organisations, 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.

Bloomberg said it has been seeking information about Ms. 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 on 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.

“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.

Ms. Fan began working for Bloomberg in 2017 after stints with a number of other foreign news organisations in China, the company said.

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.

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