Xiao Jianhua, the Hong Kong-based billionaire behind the Tomorrow Group investment conglomerate, is missing. And some worry that he was take by the Chinese government for political reasons.
Today, Jianhua might be one of the world’s richest men, but in the late-1980s he was a student leader involved in pro-democracy protests against the Chinese government. He is know to live in the Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel fronting Victoria Harbor, but friends and colleagues say that he hasn’t been seen in a week.
The New York Times reports that Jianhua was taken by Chinese police and brought back to the mainland. But as of now, no one is sure why Jianhua was detained.
But despite reports, it remains unclear that he is even in custody. Someone claiming to be Jianhua recently placed an ad on the website of the Ming Pao newspaper, saying that he is “recuperating abroad” and hadn’t been “abducted,” according to Bloomberg.
“The Chinese government is a civilized government ruling according to law,” the ad said. “Everyone don’t misinterpret. There’s no such thing as me being abducted back to mainland China.”
Complicating the issue is that Xiao is a Canadian citizen (probably, although the Canadian government has declined to confirm this) and is therefore protected by the nation’s embassy. Someone claiming to be a “subordinate” of Xiao has told reports that he is in contact with Xiao and that he is not in China.
The disappearance of Xiao is igniting tension between Hong Kong and mainland China, as Hong Kong’s Basic Law prohibits Chinese law enforcement authorities from operating independently in the city, according to Bloomberg.