Prominent Chinese Business Tycoons and Executives Disappear from Public View

Chinese executives disappearing from public view has become a worrying trend, as the latest case of Bao Fan, the founder of China Renaissance Holdings Ltd, joins a list of high-profile executives going missing in recent years without much explanation. The following are some other notable cases of Chinese executives who have suddenly disappeared from the public eye:

  • Qu Dejun, Seazen Group: The director and co-president of Seazen Holdings, a unit of Chinese real estate developer Seazen Group, was reported missing on February 10, 2021. Seazen Group later stated that Qu had resigned from his role as vice-chairman due to personal reasons and an inability to perform his duties.
  • Ren Zhiqiang, Huayuan Real Estate Group: In March 2020, Ren disappeared after calling President Xi Jinping a “clown” in response to a speech made about the government’s efforts to fight the coronavirus. In April, the Beijing municipal anti-corruption watchdog said he was under investigation. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in September 2020 for graft.
  • Yang Zhihui, Landing International: In August 2018, Landing International, a casino and resort development firm, said it was unable to contact its chairman Yang Zhihui, causing shares to drop more than 30%. Three months later, the company said Yang had resumed his duties after assisting an investigation in China, without providing any information about the probe.
  • Wu Xiaohui, Anbang Insurance Group: Anbang Insurance Group initially denied media reports in June 2017 that their then-chairman Wu had been barred from leaving the country before later saying he was temporarily unable to fulfil his duties due to personal reasons. In late March 2018, Wu was put on trial for fraud and embezzlement. In August of the same year, he was sentenced to 18 years in jail and 10.5 billion yuan of his assets were confiscated.
  • Ye Jianming, CEFC China Energy: Ye, the former chairman of the conglomerate CEFC China Energy, disappeared in March 2018 and was taken in for questioning, according to a source familiar with the matter. His whereabouts have not been disclosed, but he has been named in graft trials of senior Communist Party officials and state bank executives.
  • Xiao Jianhua, Tomorrow Holdings: Billionaire Xiao was taken away from a Hong Kong hotel in a wheelchair in January 2017 with his head covered, according to a source. In August 2020, he was sentenced to 13 years in jail and his company, Tomorrow Holdings, was fined a record high of 55.03 billion yuan for illegally siphoning away public deposits and committing other offenses.
  • Guo Guangchang, Fosun International: In December 2015, Fosun International’s founder and chairman Guo was said to be “assisting in certain investigations carried out by mainland judiciary authorities” after the company lost contact with him. Although investors were alarmed and stock prices fell, Guo returned to work a few days later after attending a company meeting in Shanghai and traveling to the United States.
  • Yim Fung, Guotai Junan Securities: In November 2015, Yim Fung, the chairman and CEO of Guotai Junan, went missing, and a month later, the company stated that he had resumed his duties after helping mainland authorities with an unspecified investigation. The nature of the investigation was unknown, but Yim’s absence coincided with an anti-graft campaign in the financial sector following a market slump.