Chinese Billionaire Freed by Police After Being Held Hostage, Reports Say

June 15, 2020 Updated: June 15, 2020

BEIJING—The billionaire founder of the world’s biggest appliance manufacturer, Midea Group, was rescued by police after being taken hostage by intruders in his home in southern China, news reports said on June 15.

Police received a call June 14 that intruders had broken into a home in Foshan city, Guangzhou Province, near Hong Kong, the Foshan police department said on its social media account. It said five suspects were arrested early on June 15.

While the police statement identified the victim only by the surname He, the business news magazine Caixin, the newspaper Beijing News, and other outlets said it was He Xiangjian, Midea’s 78-year-old founder.

Midea thanked police in a statement on its social media account, but gave no confirmation that He was involved. Phone calls to Midea’s press office weren’t answered; a man who answered the phone at the Foshan police headquarters said he couldn’t talk about the case.

The police statement said the crime occurred at the Junlan Life Village, which Caixin said is a neighborhood of villas built by Midea.

He is China’s fourth-wealthiest person, with a net worth of 180 billion yuan ($25 billion), according to Hurun Report, which tracks the country’s wealthy.

Midea reported 2019 revenue of 280 billion yuan ($32.9 billion); its 200 subsidiaries include Kuka, a German producer of robotics technology.

Midea’s takeover of Kuka in 2016 was a wake-up call for Germany that made it realize the need for protecting its strategic assets, prompting European Union officials to call for tighter restrictions on Chinese merger and acquisition deals.

Midea grew out of a workshop set up in 1968 by He and other residents of Beijiao, a village that now is part of Foshan.

He stepped down from operations of the company in 2012, but has a seat on the board of directors. His son, He Jianfeng, also is a director.

The Epoch Times contributed to this report.