Hong Kong hotel a 'hideout' for Chinese businessmen

The five-star Four Seasons Hotel, where Mr Xiao is said to have been staying before his disappearance last Friday.
The five-star Four Seasons Hotel, where Mr Xiao is said to have been staying before his disappearance last Friday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

HONG KONG • For the past few years, China-born billionaire Xiao Jianhua had been staying at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel before his disappearance last Friday.

The five-star hotel overlooking the Victoria Harbour has been a comfortable "hideout from prying authorities across the border", reported the South China Morning Post.

Located only a short walk from the Macau ferry terminal, it is nicknamed the "north-facing watchtower" by Chinese businessmen and media. The airport express train is right next to it.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign has driven swarms of rich Chinese to seek shelter in Hong Kong, and the Four Seasons Hotel is usually their top choice.

Conversations at the hotel's Chinese restaurant Lung King Heen often start with "How's your case going?", according to a report in late 2014 by a Chinese news portal run by Tencent Technologies.

Chinese media outlets, including the state-run Global Times, have previously reported how Chinese fleeing anti-corruption campaigns have sought refuge at the hotel, where the cost of a night in the presidential suite starts at HK$78,000 (S$14,200).

 
 

Previous reports have said that Mr Xiao fled to Hong Kong in 2014 to escape the corruption crackdown, but the tycoon has denied the allegations.

Mr Xiao, with his entourage of female bodyguards, was one of the hotel's wealthiest long-term guests.

The Hurun Report, which tracks Chinese billionaires, estimated his fortune last year at 40 billion yuan (S$8.2 billion).

Ms Amy Powell, director of public relations and communications of the Four Seasons, said she could not confirm whether Mr Xiao had stayed at the hotel, but said they were cooperating with police.

When asked if a large number of Chinese businessmen stayed at the Four Seasons, she told the Post the hotel welcomed guests from all over the world.

Analyst Ma Ngok told Agence France-Presse that the case has shaken the confidence of other Chinese tycoons.

"They just don't have the confidence that if something happens in Hong Kong the government or the police are going to help out," said the professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Mr Xiao is believed to have been taken across the border by Chinese security agents, an act that would violate Hong Kong's mini-Constitution, the Basic Law.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2017, with the headline 'HK hotel a 'hideout' for Chinese businessmen'. Print Edition | Subscribe