Fallen Billionaire Offers a Lens on Xi’s China

The arc of events since Xiao Jinhua’s disappearance from the Hong Kong Four Seasons suggests his trial isn’t purely a matter of law enforcement.
Billionaires who get on the wrong side of the law aren’t an easy object of sympathy. The trial of Xiao Jianhua merits attention, though, even if its subject may not be deserving. The circumstances and conduct of the case have ramifications that go beyond the fate of this one Chinese-Canadian tycoon who was once worth close to $6 billion.

Xiao went missing from Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel in early 2017, with several media outlets reporting he had been abducted by Chinese security agents, who at the time weren’t allowed to operate in the city. There was no official word on his status until 2020, when Chinese regulators took over nine of his companies and Xiao’s Tomorrow Group confirmed he had returned to the mainland to cooperate with investigations. The Canadian embassy in Beijing said Monday that it was aware Xiao’s trial would take place and its representatives had been denied access. Authorities have said nothing and state media have been silent.