Xiao Jianhua: Chinese-Canadian tycoon to face trial in China without access to consulate, embassy says

Billionaire financier Xiao Jianhua, known for his close ties to some of China’s most powerful political families, disappeared in 2017 after Chinese security agents grabbed him from his room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong and took him to mainland China.

The Canadian Embassy said consular officials are closely monitoring Xiao’s case and providing consular services to his family, although they did not confirm the date of the trial.

“Canada has made several requests to participate in the trial of Canadian citizen Mr. Xiao Jianhua. The Chinese authorities refused to participate,” the embassy said.

Reuters, citing the embassy, ​​previously reported that Xiao’s trial is due to begin on Monday.

Xiao’s extrajudicial kidnapping comes amid a broader anti-corruption crackdown launched by Chinese leader Xi Jinping that has lured scores of high-ranking officials and CEOs of large Chinese companies into a trap.

Since then, Xiao has not appeared in public. Chinese authorities have not disclosed the charges against him or any other details of his case.

Xiao was one of China’s richest men and controlled the Tomorrow Group, a large holding company with stakes in banks, insurance companies and real estate developers.

According to Hurun, which analyzes China’s wealth, Xiao had a net worth of $6 billion and was ranked 32nd on his richest list in 2016, equivalent to the Forbes list.

In February 2017, a person familiar with the kidnapping told CNN that there had been a small fight at Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel between two dozen Chinese security personnel and Xiao’s own security team, which usually had about eight bodyguards per shift. The source asked not to be named due to the politically sensitive nature of the case. After the incident, Xiao did not appear in public.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he was unaware of the situation when asked about Xiao’s trial at a press conference on Monday.

Who is Xiao Jianhua?

A Chinese-born Canadian citizen, Xiao was one of several Chinese tycoons who moved to Hong Kong and settled into private residences at the 5-star Four Seasons Hotel during Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corporate excesses.

Xiao’s disappearance shocked Hong Kong’s elite business community, where it was widely interpreted as a signal that the city was no longer beyond the reach of the mainland’s security apparatus.

It also raised wider concerns about the erosion of the city’s freedoms guaranteed by the “one country, two systems” policy negotiated as part of China’s handover of Hong Kong in 1997.

Xiao’s case has been compared to Li Bo, a bookseller and British passport holder who disappeared from Hong Kong in 2015 and then ended up in Chinese custody. That same year, five booksellers went missing, all connected to Mighty Current and its Causeway Bay Books store, which sold gossip about the Chinese elite.
These disappearances occurred before anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019, which were initially triggered by a controversial extradition bill that proposed allowing Hong Kong to turn over fugitives on the run to mainland Chinese courts.
The government eventually suspended the bill to quell mass protests before Beijing enacted a sweeping national security law in the city in 2020. jeopardize national security.”

The law criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers, and provides for a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Critics say the law was used to silence all dissent against the Hong Kong government, which has repeatedly defended the law, saying it brought the city back to stability.

Steven Jiang and Cathy Hunt of CNN contributed to this story.

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