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  05 Jul 2022, 10:10

Canadian diplomats denied access to tycoon's trial in China: embassy

 BEIJING, July 5, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Canadian diplomats were denied access to
the trial of Canadian-Chinese tycoon Xiao Jianhua in China, Ottawa's embassy
in Beijing said in a statement on Tuesday, a day after the businessman stood
trial.

Xiao, one of China's richest people at the time of his alleged abduction from
a Hong Kong hotel in 2017, reportedly had close connections to the upper
echelons of the ruling Communist Party.

Nothing more had been known about the tycoon, who is a Canadian citizen,
since his disappearance, until the embassy confirmed Monday that he was
facing trial.

"Canada made several requests to attend the trial proceedings. Our attendance
was denied by Chinese authorities," the embassy said in a statement on
Tuesday.

Chinese authorities have so far been silent about the case, reportedly linked
to an anti-corruption drive championed by President Xi Jinping since he came
to power.

Asked about the trial Monday, a foreign ministry official said they were "not
aware of the situation."

Xiao's alleged abduction came at a time when mainland Chinese agents were not
permitted to operate in Hong Kong, and it sparked fear in the city about
residents being forcibly disappeared.

These fears were at the heart of massive pro-democracy protests that shook
Hong Kong in 2019, prompted by a government bill that would have allowed
extraditions to mainland China's opaque, Communist Party-controlled judicial
system.

Xiao's disappearance also followed the alleged kidnapping into mainland
custody of five people working for a bookstore that published salacious
titles about China's leaders.

The booksellers later appeared on mainland Chinese TV admitting to a variety
of crimes.

In response to the 2019 protests, China imposed a national security law on
Hong Kong in 2020.

That law allowed its security agencies to operate in the city and toppled the
legal firewall between the mainland and Hong Kong courts.

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