(Beijing) A Chinese-Canadian tycoon is on trial in China, the Canadian government said Monday, five years after he disappeared from Hong Kong during an anti-corruption campaign.
A government statement said diplomats are closely monitoring Xiao Jianhua’s trial and providing unspecified services to members of his family. No other information will be disclosed for reasons of confidentiality.
Xiao Jianhua, the founder of Tomorrow Group, disappeared from a Hong Kong hotel in January 2017 amid an upsurge in lawsuits against Chinese businessmen accused of various crimes, including corruption. Authorities have never confirmed whether he was detained.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said Monday he was unaware of the situation.
Xiao Jianhua’s disappearance came as the ruling Communist Party stepped up efforts to bring those wanted in corruption cases back from overseas to face trial. This has fueled fears that Beijing could abduct people overseas.
At that time, Chinese police were prohibited from operating in Hong Kong, which has a separate legal system.
Since then, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government has tightened control over Hong Kong and he is accused of violating the autonomy promised when the territory was handed over to China in 1997.
The ruling party imposed a national security law in 2020 and jailed democracy activists.
In 2015, five people linked to a Hong Kong publishing house that sold books critical of Chinese leaders disappeared from the territory and reappeared on the mainland.
Prior to his disappearance, Xiao Jianhua had an estimated fortune of US$6 billion, according to the Hurun Report, which assesses Chinese fortunes.