Reports have emerged that the wife of Chinese-Canadian billionaire Xiao Jianhua – reportedly abducted from Hong Kong to mainland China – has fled to Japan. The Hong Kong police have also denied any involvement in his “abduction”.

Initium Media, citing a source familiar with Xiao, reported on Wednesday that his wife, Zhou Hongwen, fled to Japan after withdrawing a request for police assistance on his case on January 29 – just one day after filing the report.

Xiao Jianhua
Xiao Jianhua at a naming ceremony of the CUHK T Stone Robotics Institute in April 2016. Photo: CUHK.

According to Initium, the couple had temporarily moved to Japan in 2016 because they felt Hong Kong was no longer safe after the high-profile case of the suspected kidnapping of Lee Bo. They also made Japan the main base for their businesses.

In December 2015, bookseller Lee had disappeared from Hong Kong and later showed up in mainland China, claiming he voluntarily returned to aid an investigation over the delivery of “banned” books into the mainland.

After Xiao and Zhou received “insider information” telling them that “nothing would happen if they returned [to Hong Kong]”, they came back to live at the Four Seasons Hotel, reportedly under the protection of security guards.

Yet Hong Kong police – while not explicitly naming Xiao – have since confirmed that a mainland Chinese citizen entered the mainland through a Hong Kong boundary control point.

Citing CCTV footage, Sing Tao Daily reported that Xiao was taken from his room at the Four Seasons Hotel by six men in plain clothes. He apparently did not make an effort to resist.

On Wednesday, the police issued a statement refuting media allegations that it was involved in the case of suspected abduction. “Such reports were purely speculative and carried no truth,” it read.

Canadian citizen

The Canadian Consulate-General in Hong Kong told HKFP that it was in contact with the authorities to gather additional information and provide assistance, but could not disclose further details in order to protect Xiao’s privacy.

Clarifying previous reports about the uncertainty of his citizenship, the consulate also confirmed that Xiao is indeed a Canadian citizen.

Four Seasons Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Earlier, a statement under Xiao’s name was published on Ming Pao, claiming that he was not abducted, but recovering from an illness outside the country.

The same statement was posted to the WeChat social media account of Tomorrow Group, Xiao’s financial conglomerate. All the content of the account has since been deleted.

‘Assisting investigations’

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday night that Xiao is currently “assisting investigations” in the mainland.

The investigations are reportedly related to turbulence in the Chinese stock market in summer 2015, when the Shanghai stock exchange lost a third of its value within a month, leading to the strengthening of regulatory measures.

They also relate to former senior security official Ma Jian, whose membership in the Communist Party was revoked for “serious violations of discipline” in December last year.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.