Chinese-Australian artist Guo Jian is being detained in Beijing over a "visa irregularity," Chinese officials have told their Australian counterparts.

"We have been advised by the relevant Chinese authority that Mr. Guo has been detained as a result of a visa irregularity and as a result of that he has been required to pay a fine and to serve a period in administrative detention," Justine Brown, consular head of Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs, told media on Thursday.

The activist artist and dual citizen was detained last weekend amid a widespread Chinese government crackdown on critics as the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests approached.

Hundreds of armed police and security officers were also dispatched to patrol the central Beijing square, Chinese social media and internet sites censored mention of the bloody 1989 incident and public discussion of the anniversary has been prohibited.

A Chinese-born artist, activist and former People's Liberation Army member, Guo alerted friends and media via text message on Sunday that police were removing him from his home in Songzhuang, an arts colony on the eastern suburb of Beijing.

The 52-year-old said he was told he would be held until June 15.

Guo became an Australian citizen after moving to Sydney in the early 1990s, but returned to China in 2005.

Considered part of the cynical realism movement among contemporary Chinese artists, he is known internationally for creating provocative artwork exploring themes of political upheaval and propaganda in China and the West.