Trial begins in China for tycoon Xiao Jianhua who disappeared in 2017: Embassy

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Tycoon Xiao Jianhua, who disappeared from a Hong Kong hotel in 2017, is standing trial on Monday, Canada's embassy to China said in a statement.

“Canadian consular officials are monitoring this case closely, providing consular services to his family and continue to press for consular access,” the embassy told AFP, without specifying the location of the trial or charges against him.

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Xiao, who is a Canadian citizen, disappeared from his apartment in Hong Kong’s Four Seasons hotel in January 2017, with local media reporting that he was snatched by mainland Chinese agents.

One of China’s richest people at the time, Xiao reportedly had close connections to the upper echelons of the ruling Communist Party.

Hong Kong police said at the time that he had crossed the border into mainland China. His company Tomorrow Group also later said that he was in the mainland.

But Chinese authorities have been silent about the case, which is reportedly linked to an anti-corruption drive championed by President Xi Jinping since he came into power.

Xiao’s alleged abduction came at a time when mainland Chinese agents were not permitted to operate in Hong Kong, and it sparked fear in the city about residents being forcibly disappeared.

These fears were at the core of massive pro-democracy protests that shook Hong Kong in 2019, prompted by a government bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China's opaque, Communist Party-controlled judicial system.

Xiao's disappearance also followed the alleged kidnapping into mainland custody of five people working for a bookstore which published salacious titles about China’s leaders.

The booksellers later appeared on TV in mainland China admitting to a variety of crimes.

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