China Detains Bloomberg News Staff Member in Beijing

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China Detains Bloomberg News Staff Member in Beijing

China’s foreign ministry in Beijing.

Photo: Li He/Zuma Press

TAIPEI—Chinese authorities have detained a local staff member working in the Beijing bureau of Bloomberg News on suspicion of endangering national security, the news organization said.

Haze Fan, a Chinese national, was seen being escorted from her apartment building by plainclothes security officials shortly after being in touch with a Bloomberg editor on Monday, Bloomberg News reported Friday evening Beijing time.

After several days spent seeking information about Ms. Fan’s whereabouts, Bloomberg News’ parent company, Bloomberg LP, received confirmation on Thursday that she was being held on national security grounds, the news organization reported.

“We are very concerned for her and have been actively speaking to Chinese authorities to better understand the situation,” a Bloomberg spokeswoman said in an email.

Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, senior executive editor Madeleine Lim, and Greater China executive editor John Liu told China-based staff on a conference call that Chinese authorities told Bloomberg Ms. Fan’s detention wasn’t related to her work, according to people familiar with the matter. Staff were told they could continue with their work since the company believed Ms. Fan’s detention wasn’t work related, and that the company is trying its best to support Ms. Fan and her family, the people said.

Bloomberg’s spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment on the conference call.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment sent after business hours on Friday. Calls to the ministry rang unanswered.

According to Ms. Fan’s LinkedIn profile, she is currently a global business reporter and senior producer for Bloomberg in China. In her capacity as a producer, the profile says, she is responsible for breaking market news and planning other content for Bloomberg TV. She joined Bloomberg in 2017, after stints in the Beijing operations of CNBC, Al Jazeera Media Network, CBS News and Thomson Reuters, according to the profile.

Her recent contributions on Bloomberg’s news website include articles on the canceled IPO of Ant Group Co. and other business stories.

The Chinese government has significantly tightened its grip on the media industry during the past year, detaining local journalists for reporting on sensitive topics and expelling a large number of foreign journalists.

Chinese nationals are prohibited from working as credentialed reporters for foreign news organizations in China but are allowed to aid foreign correspondents as producers and research assistants.

It is rare for Chinese research assistants working for foreign news organizations to be formally detained on national security grounds.

Zhao Yan, a Chinese research assistant at the Beijing bureau of the New York Times, spent three years in prison between 2004 and 2007 on charges of disclosing state secrets to his employer. The Times denied that he ever did.

This year, Chinese authorities detained several local grass-roots journalists covering the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in the central city of Wuhan. Beijing also expelled more than a dozen journalists from The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Washington Post in February and March as part of an escalating tit-for-tat between Beijing and Washington spanning a range of domains, including media.

In August, China detained Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist working for a state-run English television news channel, amid souring relations with Australia. Neither Ms. Cheng’s status nor the reason for her detention is known.

Ms. Cheng and Ms. Fan were friends, according to people who knew them.

The Bloomberg spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Ms. Fan’s detention was related to any previous journalist detentions.

Two Australian journalists fled China after being questioned by security police and initially barred from exiting. WSJ’s Rachel Pannett explains how the continuing forced exodus of foreign media could hamper the West’s understanding of China. Photo: Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Originally published Sept. 8, 2020)

Write to Chao Deng at Chao.Deng@wsj.com

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