Minitrue: Delete Reports of Billionaire’s Abduction
The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.
All websites, including Wechat and Weibo accounts, media apps, and affiliated self-media, please immediately find and delete information on the “Tomorrow Group” and Xiao Jianhua. (January 31) [Chinese]
The directive follows reports that Xiao, a billionaire former “bagman” or dealmaker for Party elites, was taken from Hong Kong by Chinese agents last Friday. Xiao was allegedly escorted from the Four Seasons Hotel where, according to a 2014 New York Times profile, he lived “surrounded by aides who arrange his meetings with bankers and Asian tycoons and female bodyguards who even wipe the sweat from his brow.” The incident follows the disappearances of five Hong Kong booksellers, among other developments seen as eroding of the territory’s legal autonomy. The Times’ Michael Forsythe reports:
In recent years, Mr. Xiao has acted as a kind of banker to the ruling class, paying $2.4 million in 2013 to buy shares in an investment firm held by the sister and brother-in-law of China’s president, Xi Jinping. A company he helped to control financed a deal that helped the son-in-law of a top former leader, Jia Qinglin, The New York Times reported in 2014.
[…] His fate in recent days has been the focus of media attention and confusion in Hong Kong and in the overseas Chinese-language press after reports emerged that he had been arrested. On Tuesday, Mr. Xiao posted two notices on his company’s WeChat account saying he had not been taken from Hong Kong to the mainland and instead was “recuperating abroad” and soon would meet with media organizations.
In Chinese, there is no ambiguity: “Abroad” means outside the mainland. Those posts have since been removed.
Those statements were untrue, according to the person close to Mr. Xiao, and were meant to tamp down interest in the story, because the Chinese government did not want it publicized. [Source]
In light of people’s recent interest, I wish to make the follow special announcement:
I, Xiao Jianhua, am currently convalescing abroad, and am quite safe! Tomorrow Group’s business is proceeding as usual! Thank you, everyone, for your concern!
Xiao Jianhua, January 30 2017 [Chinese]
- I thank everyone for their concern. I am currently undergoing medical treatment abroad. I will promptly meet with the media as soon as this course of treatment is complete.
- I believe that the Chinese government is civilized and adheres to the rule of law. Let there be no misunderstanding! It’s not true that I’ve been abducted and taken back to the mainland.
- I am a patriotic overseas Chinese, and have always loved the Party and country. I have never taken part in anything to harm the national interest or government’s image, and have never supported any opposing power or organization.
- As a Canadian citizen and permanent resident of Hong Kong, I receive the protection of both Canadian consular authorities and Hong Kong law. As the holder of a diplomatic passport [from Antigua], I also have diplomatic immunity. So everyone please be reassured!
Xiao Jianhua, January 31 2017 [Chinese]
Storyful’s Aaron McNicholas noted further thinning of Tomorrow Group’s online presence:
— Aaron Mc Nicholas (@aaronMCN) January 31, 2017
The 2014 New York Times profile, written by Michael Forsythe and David Barboza, drew connections between Xiao’s business success with his loyalty to the government as head of the Peking University student union during the 1989 Tiananmen protests. Xiao responded with a statement insisting that his wealth was “completely the results of hard work in investments” rather than political connections. A leaked media directive ordered the suppression of related news.
This week, meanwhile, South China Morning Posts reports the reappearance of mainland tycoon Guo Wengui, who broke a two-year public silence with allegations of corruption and political machinations against Politburo Standing Committee members and faltering security star Fu Zhenghua.
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.