The Chinese government bans Chinese citizens from doing independent reporting for foreign news organizations, allowing them to work only as researchers and assistants. Bloomberg News, whose lifeblood is financial and business reporting, employs many Chinese in its large Beijing operation.
Foreign journalists in China have become a growing point of tension in recent years. The Chinese foreign ministry has often complained of what it sees as biased coverage from Western news outlets, and this year it expelled a dozen or so American journalists after the United States expelled a number of Chinese reporters.
The list of recent articles that Ms. Fan helped on features mostly reports about Chinese businesses. But she also worked on reports about the coronavirus pandemic that began in Wuhan, trade tensions between China and the United States, and other broader topics.
In her profile on LinkedIn, Ms. Fan described herself as a senior producer in China for Bloomberg, where she has worked since 2017. Previously, she worked for CNBC, Al Jazeera and other news outlets.
In August, the authorities in Beijing detained Cheng Lei, an Australian of Chinese descent who was working as a journalist for CGTN, a Chinese state-run broadcaster. Officials later said Ms. Cheng was suspected of violating national security laws, but no details have been disclosed.
In 2004, Zhao Yan, a Chinese researcher for The New York Times’s Beijing bureau, was detained by state security officers. Mr. Zhao was initially accused of disclosing state secrets to The Times, linked to reporting on Communist Party leaders. He was later convicted on a lighter charge of fraud, and served three years in prison.
Mr. Lai’s indictment and Ms. Fan’s detention come at a potentially sensitive time for China geopolitically. China has come under heavy fire from Western countries, especially the United States, Britain and Australia, for its new constrictions on Hong Kong.