HONG KONG (AP) _ Two Hong Kong journalists are reportedly being held in eastern China where they were trying to cover missile tests on the Chinese coast.

Next magazine said today that reporter Wat Wing-yin and photographer Tse Ming-chong left for Fujian Province last Friday and should have returned on Monday, but have not been heard from.

Hong Kong radio quoted Zhang Junsheng, a spokesman of Xinhua news agency, the de facto Chinese embassy in Hong Kong, as saying the two were safe but he refused to disclose their whereabouts.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Chen Jian said today that he was not aware of the detentions.

Editor in chief Cheung Kim-hung has gone to Fuzhou, the provincial capital, to investigate, said his deputy, Lai Ting-yiu.

Sources in the magazine said the two left on short notice and did not apply in advance for accreditation as journalists.

Next Magazine belongs to garment tycoon Jimmy Lai, a strident critic of China, and his publications have lately had trouble getting accredited to news events in China.

Any incident like this is bound to cause alarm in Hong Kong, which reverts to Chinese rule in 1997. China has promised to uphold Hong Kong's freedoms, but many fear it will impose restrictions on the media.

The English-language Hong Kong Standard quoted an unidentified source as saying the two journalists got into trouble when they ran into an off-limits military area.

``Since they haven't applied for any news-gathering license or informed the Information Office beforehand, they should take all responsibility if anything happens,'' it quoted an unidentified official of the provincial government as saying.

China started test-firing missiles near Taiwanese waters last month in what was seen as a bid to intimidate rival Taiwan into calling off its drive for international recognition. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan.