BEIJING – China said on Thursday that it is paying close attention to the deportation case of its most wanted man from Canada, after his refugee claim was rejected and he was nearly deported last week following years of legal wrangling.
Beijing has sought the deportation of Lai Changxing for years, accusing him of running a multibillion-dollar smuggling operation in China’s southeastern city of Xiamen in the 1990s.
Lai fled to Canada with his family in 1999 and claimed refugee status, saying the allegations against him were politically motivated.
His deportation date is tentatively set for July 25, but that could be pushed back by months if he succeeds in further legal challenges.
Despite determination by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board on Tuesday that there was no apparent flight risk and that Lai could go free for now, the Federal Court stayed that decision later in the day, in response to a request from the Canadian Border Services Agency.
“China has noticed the relevant progress of the Canadian government’s risk assessment in the case of Lai Changxing,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing.
“Lai Changxing is China’s judicial department’s prime criminal suspect wanted in the Xiamen smuggling case,” he added. “The Chinese government’s position on Lai Changxing’s return to be tried in accordance with the law is clear and consistent.”
Lai admitted in a 2009 interview with the Globe and Mail newspaper that he had avoided taxes by taking advantage of loopholes in the law, but he denies bribery charges.
Source: China Daily