Bao Fan, a prominent tech banker and head of China Renaissance, has gone missing, sparking fresh fears of another Chinese tech crackdown.
Bao Fan is one of China’s leading financial CEOs, having founded China Renaissance in 2005 after stints at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. According to The Guardian, quoting local news outlet Caixin, Bao Fan has been unreachable for two days, sparking a 50% drop in the company’s stock price. The price eventually regained 30%, but the questions about the CEO’s whereabouts remain.
“[We] believe that everyone has had a restless night. At this time, [we] hope that you do not believe in or spread rumours,” the company said in a message to employees, seen by The Wall Street Journal.
The incident is reminiscent of Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s disappearance in early 2021 amid Beijing’s crackdown on the tech and finance sector. Ma went missing for months before finally reappearing in a state media video. The fact that it was a state media video did little to reassure investors and fans that he was ok. Interestingly, Ma has since agreed to give up control of the Ant Group, the financial company at the heart of China’s regulatory efforts surrounding Ma.
Many fear Bao Fan’s disappearance could be indicative of a similar crackdown on China Renaissance.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, told The Guardian he was “not aware of the relevant information” about Bao’s disappearance.
“But I can tell you that China is a country under the rule of law,” he added. “The Chinese government protects the legitimate rights of its citizens in accordance with the law.”