Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

Canadian diplomats say they have been denied access to the trial of Canadian-Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua, a day after the businessman went before a Chinese court.

Mr Xiao – who went missing in Hong Kong five years ago – was due to go on trial in China on Monday and Canadian consular officials had been pressing for consular access, the embassy said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Canada made several requests to attend the trial proceedings,” public diplomacy counselor at the embassy Nadia Scipio del Campo told reporters. “Our attendance was denied by Chinese authorities.”

When asked for further details, such as to confirm the location of the trial, the embassy said it would not comment further due to privacy considerations.

A spokesman at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, said on Monday he was not aware of the situation, when asked about Mr Xiao’s trial at a media briefing.

China-born Xiao – who is known to have links to Communist Party elite – has not been seen in public since 2017, after he was investigated amid a state-led crackdown on conglomerates.

A man wearing sunglasses speaks.
Canadian officials say they’ve been denied access to Xiao Jianhua.(AP: Next Magazine)

Officials have not disclosed the specifics of the investigation.

A source close to Mr Xiao told Reuters that, on the day he went missing, the billionaire was whisked away from Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel, in a wheelchair, with his head covered.

Mr Xiao was ranked 32nd on the 2016 Hurun China rich list – China’s equivalent of the Forbes list – with an estimated net worth of $ US5.97 billion (more than $ 8.6 billion) at the time.

At the center of Mr Xiao’s empire is the financial group Tomorrow Holdings Co.

In July 2020, regulators seized nine of the group’s related institutions as part of a crackdown on risks posed by financial conglomerates.

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