12/14/2020, 09.50
CHINA
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Beijing confirms arrest of a Chinese Bloomberg journalist

She is accused of threatening national security. The EU calls for the release of all reporters imprisoned in China. Chinese authorities: it is a domestic matter. Press targeted by Chinese and Hong Kong authorities.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Chinese embassy to the European Union yesterday confirmed that Bloomberg journalist Haze Fan has been arrested.

She us charged with having carried out "criminal activities" that threaten the national security. Chinese diplomats intervened after the EU issued a note on 12 December calling for the release of all reporters imprisoned in China. The Asian giant authorities responded that the issue is a domestic matter and other states and organizations have no right to interfere.

Haze has worked at Bloomberg since 2017. The US publication has asked the Chinese government to clarify the reasons for the arrest. The reporter deals with business affairs and mostly does research and translation for her US colleagues.

In the last year, several journalists have come under fire from the Chinese regime. In March, Beijing expelled the correspondents of three major US newspapers: a response to the Trump administration's decision to consider some Chinese media operating in the United States as "foreign missions", the equivalent of diplomatic ones.

Cheng Lei, an Australian presenter who works for the Chinese state TV CGTN, was stopped on August 14. Since then the woman has been "under surveillance in a designated residence". In September, two Australian journalists - Bill Birtles of the ABC and Michael Smith of the Australian Financial Review - fled China. Both had found refuge in their country's diplomatic offices after Chinese police raided their homes on September 3. Earlier in the day, a Los Angeles Times reporter was arrested and then deported from Inner Mongolia as she followed the protests that were shaking China's northern region.

Independent journalist Zhang Zhan has been detained in Shanghai's Pudong prison since May. He risks five years in prison for reporting on the Covid-19 emergency in Wuhan (Hubei), the epicentre of the pandemic. Last week, her lawyer revealed that the torture she suffered in prison damaged the blogger's health.

Three other reporters disappeared in the Hubei capital in February. Li Zehua, who had posted about the city's crematoria open 19 hours a day, reappeared on April 22 after a spell under arrest. Chen Qiushi is under the "supervision" of the authorities. On the other hand, there is still no news of Fang Bin.

In Hong Kong, publishing magnate - and democratic activist - Jimmy Lai could end up with life imprisonment under the new security law set up by Beijing. In November, Wan Yiu-sing (better known as "Giggs"), an online radio reporter, was arrested. Previously, the police had arrested an RTHK producer Bao Choy who investigated the Yuen Long "riots", which took place last year in the midst of demonstrations against the extradition law.

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