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Hong Kong bookseller disappearances

Missing Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua ‘last seen at Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel’ before entering mainland

Hong Kong police are examining hotel surveillance footage and have asked mainland counterparts for help to determine if he is under arrest, sources say

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 12:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 February, 2017, 9:11am

The mystery of the whereabouts of high-profile mainland billionaire Xiao Jianhua deepened ­on Tuesday after sources said he was last seen at a luxury Hong Kong hotel last week.

Hong Kong police also said they were investigating the tycoon’s disappearance.

Concerns over the fate of Xiao, the founder of ­Beijing-based ­Tomorrow Group, emerged after overseas Chinese media reported that mainland agents took him from Hong Kong on Friday.

A government source with knowledge of the investigation said Xiao, 46, left the Four Seasons Hotel on Friday morning, accompanied by an unidentified number of people. The source said the people with Xiao were not triad members as reported. The hotel had already handed over sur­veillance camera footage to the police, the source added.

Another source said Xiao left Hong Kong for Shenzhen at about 3pm on Friday. Police officers examined CCTV footage and did not find any scuffles in the hotel involving Xiao or his two female bodyguards.

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Hong Kong police had asked their mainland counterparts to help find Xiao and check whether he was under arrest, the source said.

Earlier this week, Tomorrow Group released two statements claiming Xiao was overseas, but Hong Kong police said in another statement that Xiao entered the mainland on Friday.

The case comes about a year after five Hong Kong booksellers disappeared, triggering fears of mainland agents acting outside of their jurisdiction.

Tomorrow Group – which has close ties with powerful mainland politicians and has stakes in businesses ranging from banking to trust funds – issued two statements in Xiao’s name via its ­WeChat account this week rejecting claims that he was on the mainland.

The first statement, issued on Monday, said : “I, Xiao Jianhua, am recuperating overseas now and all is good! Business is normal at Tomorrow Group!” The second statement, released on Tuesday, said the tycoon had not been “captured” and taken back to the mainland, and would appear “very soon after the treatment”.

Mainland businessman Xiao hits back at claims he fled to Hong Kong and is under investigation

The statement quoted Xiao as saying that as a Canadian citizen he enjoyed the consular protection of Canada, and as a Hong Kong permanent resident was covered by the city’s laws. He was also quoted as saying he held a “diplomatic passport”.

“I have diplomatic protection as I hold a diplomatic passport. Please don’t worry about me,” it said, without saying which country had issued the document.

But the two statements – along with the rest of the group’s posts – have since been removed from the company’s WeChat account.

The Post has also learned that Xiao is not a holder of a Hong Kong permanent ID card or an SAR passport.

The Canadian embassy in ­Beijing declined to confirm whether Xiao was a Canadian citizen, or whether it had received any recent requests for consular assistance from any ­Canadian ­citizens in China.

Hong Kong police said they ­received a “request for police assistance” report on Saturday concerning a mainland citizen in the city.

The police statement did not name the person, but it was issued in response to media queries about Xiao. A relative of the mainland citizen asked on Sunday for the report to be withdrawn because the subject told the family member he was safe, the police statement said.

Police said that based on initial investigations, the subject entered the mainland on Friday via one of Hong Kong’s boundary control points.

A source said Xiao’s wife filed and later withdrew the report to police.

Jailed editors and kidnapped booksellers: A cautionary tale for all critics of Beijing

A police spokesman said ­on Tuesday that the force had contacted the mainland authorities for updates about Xiao’s situation.

Mingjing News, a New York-based website covering Chinese political rumours, reported over the weekend that an unnamed billionaire “who controlled ­trillions of yuan in assets” was captured by mainland police and state security agents in Hong Kong on Friday night.

On Monday, Bowen Press, an offshoot of Boxun, another ­overseas website for Chinese political rumours, reported that Xiao had been taken away for ­opposing the Communist Party’s leadership. But sources conflicted on whether Hong Kong police were involved in the operation, the report said.

In the second Tomorrow Group statement, Xiao was quoted as denying involvement in any activity harmful to the party or with any “opposing forces or ­organisations”.

“Please don’t misunderstand – there is no such thing that I was kidnapped and taken back to the mainland,” Xiao was quoted as saying.