Canada says its diplomats in China were barred from attending the trial of a Chinese-born Canadian billionaire who disappeared from a Hong Kong hotel in 2017.
The Canadian government issued a statement Tuesday that Ottawa “made several requests to attend the trial proceedings” of Xiao Jianhua. “Our attendance was denied by Chinese authorities,” the statement said.
The Canadian embassy in Beijing said Monday it was aware that Xiao would be going on trial that day, but did not specify the location or charges against him.
Xiao, the founder of Beijing-based financial group, Tomorrow Group, was born in China and was known to have links to China’s Communist Party echelon.
His disappearance came as the Chinese government was prosecuting businesspeople accused of bribery and other misconduct, in an anti-corruption campaign said to be spearheaded by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xiao vanished at a time when Chinese police were prohibited from operating in Hong Kong, which has a separate legal system under the “one country, two systems” framework put in place after the territory’s handover from Britain to China.
Chinese authorities have not confirmed or denied whether Xiao was detained, nor have they disclosed possible charges against him.
The 2016 Hurun China list of richest people, the country’s equivalent of the Forbes list, ranked Xiao as the 32nd wealthiest person in China with an estimated net worth of $5.97 billion.