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.