China: Bloomberg journalist remains detained as Beijing pushes back

China has warned against foreign interference in what it calls an ‘internal affair’ after foreign parties expressed concerns over the detention of Haze Fan, a Bloomberg staff member in Beijing. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) rejects this is an internal matter and says international calls for information on Fan’s condition and the charges against her do not constitute as interference.

Bloomberg journalist Haze Fan. Credit: AsiaNews

Haze Fan, a Chinese citizen who has worked for the Bloomberg News Beijing bureau since 2017, has been under detention by Chinese authorities on suspicion of endangering national security since December 7. She was last seen being escorted out of her apartment by plain clothes officials, according to the news organization.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on December 11: “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.”

“We are deeply concerned for her well-being,Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said in an interview. In a separate statement, a Bloomberg spokesperson said: We are continuing to do everything we can to support her while we seek more information.

Nabila Massrali, spokesperson for the European External Action Service (EEAS), said in a statement on December 12: All those arrested and detained in connection with their reporting activity should be immediately released.The EU official was referring to Fan and a number of Chinese journalists who have been detained by the authorities this year.

The Chinese Mission to the EUsaid in a statement on December 13:“The lawful handling of the relevant issues by the Chinese authorities is entirely China's internal affair, in which no other country or organization has any right to interfere.Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, likewise warned against foreign interference in Fan’s case during a press briefing on December 14 urging the European authorities to properly respect the judicial sovereignty of China and stop making irresponsible remarks’.

Fan previously worked for a number of foreign news outlets, including CNBC, CBS News, Al Jazeera, and Thomson Reuters. Foreign news organizations operating in Chinacan by law hire Chinese citizens as assistants only through personnel service companies designated by the Chinese Foreign Ministry or its affiliated agencies.

On December 11, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) also expressed its concern over Fan’s detention and pledged to closely follow her condition. “The FCCC expresses its solidarity with the talented Chinese nationals who perform an invaluable service for foreign media outlets in China, it said.

The IFJ said:“Journalists around the world work to serve the public everywhere and are entitled to international support when their safety, security and liberty are threatened as a result of their reporting. Freedom of the press requires freedom for journalists to report the facts, without fear of arbitrary arrest and detention. We call on China to release Haze Fan immediately and give her full benefit of due process of law.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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