Democratic Party lawmaker James To has said the system used by Hong Kong and mainland police for detention notifications was “useless,” as China has not responded to the city’s enquires about businessman Xiao Jianhua, who disappeared a year ago from a local hotel.

Xiao, a Hong Kong permanent resident, was allegedly abducted by Chinese agents from the Four Seasons Hotel in Central last January. However, there has not been any official confirmation as to whether he was detained in the mainland, other than a statement issued after his disappearance saying that he was “recovering from an illness outside the country.” The statement said that he had not been abducted.

Secretary for Security John Lee said at a Legislative Council panel on Tuesday that the Hong Kong government was still waiting for an answer to a letter asking Chinese authorities about his disappearance.

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

To said that, under a new mechanism between Hong Kong and the mainland, both sides may make enquiries and the other should respond within 30 working days after receipt.

He said that, even if Xiao claimed he was voluntarily remaining on the mainland, the Hong Kong side should be notified.

“We have waited for a year – it means this mechanism is useless,” To said. “Through the sensitive case of Xiao, we know it is useless.”

To said the Hong Kong government should have pushed harder, instead of just sending one letter to the Chinese authorities.

“You waited for a year – did you even write a second letter? You didn’t. You are not performing your duties,” To told Lee.

James To and John Lee. Photo: Screenshot.

Lee said the mainland had notified Hong Kong about more than 15,000 cases and the mechanism was working.

Xiao is also a Canadian citizen and has a diplomatic passport from Antigua and Barbuda.

To said the government cannot avoid a sensitive case and take no action over the mysterious disappearance of a Hong Kong resident: “The authorities have to follow up with Xiao’s case until it is all clear – to defend Hong Kong’s rule of law and judicial system.”


Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.