A Chinese businesswoman who founded a privately operated publishing company is facing charges of "illegal business practices."

The criminal accusation is one known to be used in China to stifle political dissent and criticism, Voice of the Martyrs Canada reports.

Geng Xiaonan was detained with her husband, Qin Zhen, on Sept. 9.

The charges, according to Xiaonan's lawyer, pertain to her involvement in 8,000 illegal publications, which has now grown to around 200,000.

The illegal documents published include cooking magazines.

Ruiya Books is the company owned by Xiaonan and her husband. Xiaonan has also worked as an independent television and film producer.

Xiaonan's reputation comes partly from her known public condemnations of the Chinese Communist Party. One of these instances involved Xiaonan supporting an outspoken academic who has been critical of the Chinese president and how he has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

The academic, Xu Zhangrun, was arrested earlier this year but has been released.

Zhangrun has supported Xiaonan since her arrest. In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Zhangrun called for the public to also support the businesswoman.

"Geng Xiaonan spoke for justice. She cried for the political dissidents who lost their lives," Zhangrun says.

"We cannot just sit back and let it be. We shall make our voices heard and call for her release."