Bloomberg News Staffer Has Been in Jail in China Since Dec. 2020

By Victor Westerkamp | December 9, 2021
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Bloomberg News China staffer Haze Fan is still detained in China after being arrested in Beijing on Dec. 7, 2020, on charges of “engaging in criminal activities that jeopardize national security.” Nothing has been heard from her since then. (Image: Bloomberg handout)

Bloomberg China News staffer, Haze Fan, has been missing for over a year now amidst growing concerns over her and other journalists’ safety in China and worldwide.

Fan, a Chinese national, was last seen on Dec. 7, 2020, after being detained outside her apartment building in Beijing by two plainclothes officials.

Nothing has been heard of her since despite mounting pressure on the Chinese Embassy in Washington from Bloomberg News’ parent company, Bloomberg LP, and several press-related human rights organizations, like Reporters Sans Frontieres and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

However, Chinese authorities have only dryly confirmed that Fan was detained. “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. The case is currently under investigation. Ms. Fan’s legitimate rights have been fully ensured and her family has been notified,” the authorities stated.

Bloomberg’s call for support

Meanwhile, Bloomberg devoted an article on Tuesday commemorating Fan’s disappearance calling for the international press community to push for her release and that of other journalists worldwide.

“Twelve months of detention is a long time for anybody to endure, even someone as smart and strong as Haze. We are all very worried about her well-being and we will continue to do everything we can to help her and her family,” a statement, authored by Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, read. “Haze is much missed in our newsroom — both as a colleague and as a friend,” Micklethwait added.

Fan had earlier worked for media like CNBC, Al Jazeera, CBS, and Reuters in Beijing before joining Bloomberg in 2017. 

READ MORE: ‘The Great Leap Backwards’: New Report Slams the State of Journalism in China

READ MORE: China Had the Most Jailed Journalists in 2020

More journalists behind bars

Fan is one of at least 47 journalists that were detained in China last year. China has positioned itself at the top of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranking of regimes with news people incarcerated for the second year in a row, marking a trend whereby reporters are being increasingly silenced while performing investigative journalism. 

Chinese rule permits powers to continually prolong arrests on a national security basis for an extended duration. After speaking out about COVID-19 and Beijing’s failed response to the pandemic, many more domestic reporters have been imprisoned.

Fan was celebrated with the 2021 John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award by the U.S. National Press Club alongside Frontier Myanmar’s Danny Fenster, a U.S. national who, during that period, was imprisoned in Myanmar.

Worldwide violations of press freedom

Worldwide, attacks on freedom of the press have intensified, which led the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to honor two press people this year: Maria Ressa, chief executive officer of the Philippines of Rappler, an investigative newspaper, and Dmitry Muratov, Russia’s independent media outlet Novaya Gazeta’s editor-in-chief. 

Foreign journalists have also been increasingly entangled in Chinese bureaucratic regulations as relations between China and the West have become more strained. Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist of Chinese descent employed by the Chinese broadcaster CGTN, has also been held in prison for more than a year.