Wealthy Canadian missing for 5 years reappears to be tried in China
Xiao Jianhua during a discussion with journalists in Hong Kong, in December 2013.
He disappeared in 2017 from his luxury hotel in Hong Kong under mysterious conditions: the Canadian tycoon of Chinese origin Xiao Jianhua, once reputed to be close to senior communist leaders, is on trial this Monday in China.
He was one of the richest men in China and the founder of the Tomorrow conglomerate, an empire with diverse interests including banking, real estate and insurance.
Until his disappearance, Mr. Xiao lived in Hong Kong in an apartment in a multi-star hotel, the Four Seasons, which had the reputation of being a refuge for tycoons business Chinese.
According to press reports at the time, the billionaire was abducted at the end of January 2017 by Beijing agents, in defiance of Hong Kong laws which then prohibited Chinese police from operating in the semi-colonial territory. autonomous.
The case had caused a stir in the former British colony, which has a legal framework distinct from that in force in Mainland China.
Since Mr. Xiao's disappearance, little information has leaked out and the Chinese authorities have always remained silent on the matter.
The Canadian Embassy in Beijing confirmed the businessman's trial on Monday.
Global Affairs Canada has knowledge that a trial in the case of the Canadian citizen, Mr. Xiao Jianhua, will take place on July 4, 2022, the embassy told AFP, which did not specify neither the location of the trial nor the charges against the accused.
Canadian consular officials are following this case closely, providing consular services to her family and continuing to press for consular access, she said.
D' ;according to press reports, the tycoon had close ties with senior leaders of China's ruling Communist Party.
The businessman was able to being a victim of Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign which, according to his critics, is also used to target his political opponents and their supporters.
After five years of quiet waiting, our family continues, based on strict instructions from my brother, to trust the government and Chinese law, confided last month to the Wall Street Journal deposed tycoon Xiao Xinhua's older brother.
It's very complicated, he said of the case , according to the American daily.
The Xiao Jianhua case recalls the “disappearance” in 2015 of five Hong Kong booksellers, known for publishing books with salacious content on the Chinese political class.
All had vanished to resurface in mainland China, in the hands of justice.
One of them, Lam Wing-kee, had been allowed to return to Hong Kong to collect his bookstore's customer list and return to mainland China. But he instead summoned the press to deliver explosive revelations about what had happened to him.
Lam Wing-kee now lives in Taiwan, where he was interviewed by Radio-Canada's special envoy, Philippe Leblanc. Read this report.
Coming from a poor background, Xiao Jianhua, after studying at the prestigious Peking University, began by selling computers. He was once one of the richest men in China.
According to the Hurun ranking of Chinese billionaires, the tycoon's fortune was estimated at some $6 billion in 2017, the year of his disappearance.
This legal case could return to poison Sino-Chinese relations.
The years following Xiao Jianhua's disappearance had been marked by heightened tensions between China and Canada, sparked by the late 2018 arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou.
This financial director of the private Chinese telecommunications group Huawei had been arrested at the request of the United States, which demanded her extradition to try her for fraud.
In the wake of his arrest, Beijing arrested two Canadians in China and targeted Canadian agricultural exports. The three protagonists were finally released in September 2021.
A thaw in relations followed. China lifted its ban on imports of Canadian canola, a variety of rapeseed, in May 2022.