BEIJING -- Monday's announcement by Canada's government in China reveals that a Canadian-born tycoon was being tried in China. This is five years after he disappeared from Hong Kong during an anticorruption crackdown.
A government statement stated that Xiao Jianhua would be facing trial on Monday. The government stated that Canadian diplomats were closely monitoring the case and providing unspecified services for Xiao's loved ones. The statement stated that no additional information would be made due to privacy concerns.
Xiao (the founder of Tomorrow Group) vanished from a Hong Kong Hotel in January 2017. This was amid a rise in prosecutions of Chinese businessmen accused of bribery or other misconduct. Authorities have not confirmed that Xiao has been detained or made public any possible charges.
Zhao Lijian (spokesman for the foreign ministry) said Monday that he was unaware of the situation.
Xiao disappeared as the ruling Communist Party intensified efforts to press people in corruption cases from abroad to return to court. This raised fears that Beijing might be abducting foreigners. The Chinese police were banned from operating in Hong Kong at that time. It has a separate legal structure.
Since then, the government of Chinese President Xi Jinping imposed tighter control on Hong Kong. This has led to complaints that it is violating the autonomy promised in 1997 when the territory was returned to China. In 2020, the ruling party passed a national security law and jailed pro-democracy activists.
Five people associated with a Hong Kong publishing house that sold books critical to Chinese leaders disappeared from the territory in 2015 and resurfaced on the mainland.
According to the Hurun Report which tracks China's wealthy, Xiao's fortune was $6 billion before his disappearance.
In February 2017, a representative of China's securities regulator stated that any Chinese citizens abroad accused of misconduct would be "captured" and "returned."
Hong Kong police conducted an investigation into Xiao’s disappearance. They found that the subject had crossed the border to the mainland. Xiao was not taken against his will, according to an advertisement in Ming Pao published the same week.