Canada Keeps Hold of China’s Most Wanted

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A decision over whether to deport China’s most wanted man from Canada rests in the hands of the Canadian judiciary. The comments were made by Canada’s foreign minister during a visit to Beijing on Monday.

John Baird said he discussed the deportation case of Lai Changxing in his meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. It comes after Lai’s refugee claim was rejected and he was nearly deported earlier this month, following years of legal wrangling.

Canada does not have a death penalty and will not usually deport someone to a death-penalty state, but Baird said that Beijing had given its assurance that Lai would not be executed.

[John Baird, Canadian Foreign Minister]:

“The one thing I was struck by, in my discussions, both with the ambassador and the Chinese ambassador in Ottawa and my colleagues here is when it comes to white collar fraudsters and it comes to drug crime, the Chinese people take them very seriously, just like the Canadian people. We have a different legal system in Canada that we respect and obviously that will run its course.”

Beijing has sought the deportation of Lai for years, accusing him of running a multi-billion-dollar smuggling operation in China’s southeastern city of Xiamen in the 1990s.

Chinese authorities say Lai bribed Chinese officials to avoid paying taxes and duties on imported goods ranging from fuel to cigarettes.

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.

During discussions with Yang, Baird said he also raised the concern over the case of Uighur-Canadian Huseyin Celil, jailed in 2007 for terrorism.

Canada accepted him as a refugee and he obtained citizenship in November 2005, according to Amnesty International. But China considers Celil a Chinese citizen.

 

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