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Governments' net for outlaws

16:21, July 26, 2011

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By Li Hong

The Canadian authorities under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper over the weekend deported the most-wanted Chinese fugitive -- smuggling ringleader Lai Changxing back to China. The repatriation has beamed up tens of millions of ordinary Chinese people,
who hate corruption and economic fraudulence most.

The revered former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, prior to his retirement in 2003, vowed to take whatever measures to bring Lai back and face justice in China. Now his wish is fulfilled.

The repatriation shows the resolution of the two governments across the Pacific Ocean to honor dignity of law and punish crimes, and has laid a sound foundation for a blossom of relations between the two important countries. Canada and China are basically complementary in economic structure and the two countries have many fields to expand cooperation that will benefit the two peoples.

This country is glad at Lai’s being sent back, as it sets a good deterrent that wherever a criminal suspect escapes, he and she could not stay at large forever, and ultimately face prosecution and justice at home.

Lai has been on the run for 12 years. He is allegedly heading a smuggling ring in Xiamen, coastal Fujian Province, and netted as much as $10 billion before he fled government prosecution in 1999. As head of the Yuanhua Group, he was believed to have bribed customs officials to import oil and luxury cars and evaded millions of dollars in taxes. His flight to Canada and remaining there for more than a decade had nearly exhausted people’s aspiration to bring the most-wanted man back home.

A Canadian federal court’s verdict on Thursday that ruled Lai a “common criminal” was warmly received in China. Truthfully, as strategic partners, both the Canadian people and Chinese people “don’t have a lot of time for white-collar fraudsters”.

Many of Lai’s former colleagues and entangled government officials, including senior customs and police officers, had been put behind bars following trials. In the coming days, a transparent and fair public trial will be held for Lai. Under Chinese law, he could employ lawyers to defend him in court.

Lai’s crimes are believed to be non-violent, and under the new amendments to China’s Criminal Law, which took effect on May 1 this year and eliminated capital punishments for 13 economic crimes, Lai won’t get death penalty. Chinese law experts predict that Lai could get life in imprisonment.

Anyhow, Lai’s repatriation is definite to send chills to corrupt officials who have fled abroad or are thinking of flight with stolen money. Earlier, the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, revealed in a report that estimated corrupt Chinese officials bagging a total of 800 billion yuan ($108 billion) and living a filthily lavish life abroad. The news irked Chinese people a lot.

We just hope our government in Beijing gets real with anti-corruption, and align with more governments, in inking agreements to mutually repatriate criminal suspects and in other efforts, to deal the unruly and fraudulent officials a heavy blow they deserve.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

Li Hong has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.


Dai MinJohn
Dai Min

John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min, the executive producers and co-hosts of the Collaboration of Civilizations television series adapted by the eight books they wrote in the America-China Partnership Book Series published in English and Mandarin in 2009-2010 that created the "New School of America-China Relations." They founded the America-China Partnership Foundation and Forum in 2008 and the Center for American-China Partnership in 2005, which was recognized in 2009 as "the first American think tank to combine and integrate American and Chinese perspectives providing a complete answer for America and China's success in the 21st century."

Li HongmeiLi Hongmei

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.