The disappearance of Bao Fan, founder of the China Renaissance, has stoked concern over the phenomenon of disappearing billionaires in China. This pattern has become commonplace, with Chinese business leaders disappearing without warning. While cases involving billionaires who disappear receive greater attention, there have also been less publicized cases of Chinese citizens disappearing after participating in anti-government protests or human rights campaigns.
Bao’s disappearance has brought attention to the view that this is one of the ways in which President Xi Jinping is tightening his grip on China’s economy. This latest case came in the run-up to the annual National People’s Congress, where plans were announced for the biggest overhaul in years of China’s financial regulatory system. Officials said this would close current loopholes caused by multiple agencies monitoring different aspects of China’s trillion-dollar financial services industry.
The Chinese government insists that the actions taken against some of the country’s wealthiest individuals have a purely legal basis and has pledged to root out corruption. However, under Xi, the Chinese Communist Party wants to take back the power wielded by billionaires and is carrying out the task in ways that are often shrouded in mystery.
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