A woman walks into an underground walkway in Beijing on December 10, 2020. Bloomberg News reported on December 11 that authorities had detained a Chinese staff member four days earlier on suspicion of endangering national security. (AP/Andy Wong)

Authorities detain Chinese staff member of Bloomberg News in Beijing

Taipei, December 11, 2020—Chinese authorities should immediately release and drop any pending charges against Haze Fan, a staff member in the Bloomberg News Beijing bureau, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On Monday, plainclothes security officials in Beijing detained Fan from her apartment on suspicion of participating in activities endangering national security, according to the outlet.

“Allegations by Chinese authorities that Haze Fan engaged in criminal activities that endanger China’s national security have no credibility,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Fan should be freed at once and China should stop harassing foreign news bureaus operating in the country.”

In a statement today, Bloomberg News said that the organization is “very concerned for her” and have been in contact with authorities to understand the situation. “We are continuing to do everything we can to support her while we seek more information.”

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately reply to an email from CPJ requesting comment. 

According to the Bloomberg report, Fan began working for the news organization in 2017 and previously worked for CNBC, CBS News, Al Jazeera, and Thomson Reuters.

Foreign news organizations operating in China are prohibited by law from directly hiring Chinese citizens as employees and must rely on personnel formally hired by foreign ministry affiliated personnel service companies, according to China’s Regulation on News Coverage by Resident Offices of Foreign News Agencies and Foreign Correspondents.

CPJ has documented the escalating attacks on U.S. news organizations operating in China. In August, China detained Australian citizen Cheng Lei, who worked for the English Language China Global Television Network. China is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with at least 48 behind bars as of December 1, 2019, according to CPJ research. CPJ will publish its 2020 census of journalists imprisoned worldwide on December 15.