Photo/Illutration Tiananmen Square in Beijing on March 3 (Nozomu Hayashi)

BEIJING--Chinese security authorities recently detained a Japanese man in his 50s, fueling suspicions he could be charged with spying.

The man is believed to be an executive of a Japanese company’s local subsidiary, according to multiple sources familiar with Japan-China relations.

The reason for his detention earlier this month was not announced. But there are fears he could be suspected of spying because he is being held by China’s State Security Ministry.

The Japanese Embassy has sought permission to meet with the man and requested an explanation for his detention.

The Chinese government has cracked down on foreign espionage activities in recent years.

At least 17 Japanese nationals have been detained since the anti-espionage law took effect in 2014. The figure includes the latest case.

Chinese researchers based in Japan have also been held.