China detains Bloomberg News staffer Haze Fan in national security investigation

Details of the investigation were not immediately available. It comes after months of deteriorating conditions…

Details of the investigation were not immediately available. It comes after months of deteriorating conditions for Western media organizations in China, with a number of American and Australian journalists effectively expelled over the past year. Chinese nationals employed by Western media outlets have been warned by authorities in recent months to watch their step.

“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 saying in a Bloomberg News article.

Fan worked on China business news topics for Bloomberg News, traditionally considered less risky for Chinese nationals than political news.

Fan’s detention is the latest in a year of shock waves for Western news outlets in China amid increasingly fraught relations.

An Australian national, Cheng Lei, who worked as an anchor for a Chinese state-run broadcaster, was detained in August on suspicion of endangering national security. Several weeks later, two other Australian journalists fled China, after authorities said they had to stay in the country for questioning about Cheng’s case.

Earlier this year, Beijing effectively expelled American journalists from The Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, in retaliation for the Trump administration’s new restrictions on Chinese state media.

Chinese nationals employed by foreign media have also been under growing pressure. China does not allow its nationals to work as journalists for foreign media organizations in China, only as news assistants. Several Chinese news assistants for major Western media outlets had their work credentials revoked by Beijing this year after they assisted with reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

Fan has worked for Bloomberg News in Beijing since 2017, with prior stints at CNBC, Al Jazeera, CBS News and Thomson Reuters, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Tom Mackenzie, a Beijing-based Bloomberg News TV anchor, called Fan’s arrest “deeply disturbing,” in a Twitter post.

“I worked alongside Haze for almost 2 years when she was our China TV Producer. It’s no exaggeration to say she is one of the best, most driven and committed journalists out here,” he wrote.