Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lai Changxing expelled

As expected, the Chinese fugitive who has been at the center of controversy for 11 years was kicked out of Canada on Friday and now faces an unenviable future in the Chinese legal system

After an 11-year court saga, Chinese fugitive Lai Changxing (賴昌星) was finally expelled from Canada on Friday and will now find himself in the hands of the Kafkaesque court system in China.

As I wrote in an op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen earlier this week, Beijing’s assurances that Lai will not be executed should, given China’s track record on such matters, be enough to give us pause. As some commentators wrote this week, maybe Beijing will stick to its promise, but the chances that something bad will happen to him while in jail — say, a heart attack after being tortured — are high (one of Lai’s brothers has already died while in detention).

And despite China’s assurances, the judge who ordered his deportation has since admitted that Canadian officials would not be allowed to attend the closed hearings.

It has since emerged that Tao Mi, an employee at Lai’s company whose initial statement to Chinese police had implicated Lai, later gave a statement to a Canadian lawyer in China recanting that testimony. A Chinese official was present when Canadian immigration officials interviewed Tao and Tao hasn’t been heard from since. What’s more, Clive Ansley, the lawyer who had taken the initial statement from Tao and later testified in Lai’s defense, saw his license to practice in China revoked and was expelled.

I’ve already spoken my mind about the Harper administration on the matter, and how it is now “selling to the almighty dollar” and its gullible officials are being played by China. This makes me ashamed to come from a country that puts such morally compromised officials into high office (not that the Liberals fared much better on China, but at least Lai wasn’t expelled during their tenure).

What I find equally disheartening are the dozens of comments, ostensibly by Canadian readers, accompanying online articles about Lai’s fate. In most cases, the commentators are in favor of his expulsion and lament the 11 years, at some cost to Canadian taxpayers, it took before a final decision was made. Such comments, with their emphasis on legal costs and a borderline racist view of immigrants, are not reflective of the Canada that I grew up in. None of those individuals ever question the legal system back in China that claims Lai is a criminal, or even acknowledge the shenanigans that surrounded the whole case. Some don’t even seem to care whether he is executed or not. 

This is disgusting. I’m staying in Taiwan, thank you very much.


Michael Fagan said...

Is the Harper government expelling Lai Changxing because they are "pessimistic"?

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

@Mike: I was expecting you’d take me to task on this, and legitimately so. That said, from my rather frequent encounters with both Canadian and American officials who deal with China and/or Taiwan, I must say that when it comes to the former, I don’t get the same level of pessimism as in their US counterparts. This probably stems from the fact that Canada never was a major power to start with, and therefore doesn’t feel like it’s been “falling” in the global hierarchy. A good number of Americans do; they sound, feel and look deflated, and seem to expect a bleak future as an inevitability that can only accelerate as China becomes stronger.

So in a nutshell, I agree with you that crass opportunism, rather than pessimism, animates Ottawa’s recent decisions on China. As to the US, I still maintain it’s a mix of both.

FOARP said...

Should be said:

1) Both the EU and Canada extradite to the US despite the death penalty there because the US undertakes to not execute those extradited.

2) China will probably follow through on this. 100%? No. 99%? Probably.

3) This man, based on what I've read in the UK, US, and Canadian press so far, is probably guilty.

Michael Fagan said...

"A good number of Americans do; they sound, feel and look deflated, and seem to expect a bleak future as an inevitability that can only accelerate as China becomes stronger."

I would think that if those officials have their heads on their shoulders, then that "bleak future" they see ought to have little to do with the Chinese becoming "stronger" and everything to do with the U.S. becoming weaker under the weight of an ever-growing government.

justrecently said...

Got to disagree, Foarp. It doesn't matter if Lai is probably guilty, and if he probably won't be executed. The problem is that he can neither expect a trial that deserves the name, and that there are many ways to harm or kill him, without an execution.

There would have been no way that a similar fugitive could have been extradited to the former Soviet Union - and that's not because the USSR would have been a less reliable partner than China, in a similar treaty and arrangement.