Hong Kong Billionaire Has Mysteriously Gone Missing

Mystery deepens on whereabouts, reason for alleged abduction of Xiao Jianhua
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2017 10:11 AM CST
Hong Kong Billionaire Has Mysteriously Gone Missing
In this December 2013, photo, Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese-born Canadian billionaire, reads a book in Hong Kong.   (AP Photo/Next Magazine)

A website rumor was just the start of a mystery that involves a missing Canadian billionaire and a possible abduction from a ritzy Hong Kong hotel by Chinese cops. The BBC reports on Xiao Jianhua, who was reported missing over the weekend and has been the subject of conflicting reports since. A family member retracted the missing-persons reports on Sunday, telling Hong Kong police Xiao (at that point not yet identified to the public) had turned up "safe." And even though Hong Kong cops confirmed that Xiao—in his mid-40s and linked to helping the ruling class with their banking—had entered the Chinese mainland on Friday, the day he vanished, cryptic statements posted on social media by Xiao's company alleged he was getting medical treatment "abroad" (translation: not in China, per the New York Times), that he was a patriot, and that he hadn't been abducted.

The mystery deepened when the statements suddenly vanished this week, as did the company's online presence. The Guardian cites reports that say Xiao—a Canadian citizen and permanent Hong Kong resident, per the South China Morning Post—was taken from his Four Seasons apartment by plainclothes cops and may have been swept up as part of the government's anti-corruption campaign; a person close to Xiao confirms to the Times the financier is in Chinese police custody. The BBC speculates Xiao may also be suspected of opposing President Xi Jinping. Either way, a kidnapping would violate the agreement between Hong Kong and China that only Hong Kong cops have jurisdiction in the territory. A similar incident happened in 2015, when five Hong Kong booksellers vanished and turned up on the mainland in police custody. (More on Xiao's background in the Financial Times.)

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