Chinese painter who is engaged to a French diplomat was dragged away in a police jeep last week and taken to a detention center while he was in Hong Kong on business, the diplomat said today.

Emmanuel Bellefroid, 33, a French attache who specializes in the problems of Chinese youth, culture and dissent, said his embassy has been rebuffed in its efforts to find out why police are holding his fiancee, Li Shuang, 25.

Bellefroid said Li was taken away Wednesday by nine plainclothes police officers who intercepted her at the gate of a diplomatic compound where she had planned to meet her sister.

Li, who participated in an unorthodox art exhibition last year, had been staying at Bellefroid's apartment in the compound while the diplomat was in Hong Kong.

Bellefroid said Li's sister told him after his return to Peking that Li had telephoned her Wednesday morning to arrange a meeting at 3 p.m. The sister said officers surrounded and arrested Li as she arrived. According to the artist's sister, Li kicked and screamed before she was shoved into the jeep and driven off to the detention center.

Bellefroid and Li had received tentative approval for their marriage just before he left for Hong Kong Sept. 3. It is said to be the first such wedding planned here.

Although the number of marriages between Chinese citizens and unofficial foreigners has increased as China opens to the outside world, the process is very difficult and often dangerous.

"They want to block my marriage, they want to block this trend," said Bellefroid, who has been in China for five years. "The only way they can do it is to file criminal charges."