The increasing number of Chinese criminal suspects being repatriated
demonstrates that those who flee abroad to evade punishment will not escape, top
officials said Tuesday.
The possible deportation of Lai Changxing, one of the country's most wanted
fugitives, now in Canada, is a case in point, said Wu Heping, spokesman for the
Ministry of Public Security.
"Justice is only a matter of time," he said.
"To curb the number of criminal suspects fleeing abroad, we have strengthened
co-operation with our foreign counterparts on extradition, repatriation,
intelligence exchange and recovery of money embezzled," Gao Feng, deputy
director of the ministry's economic crime investigation bureau, said at a press
conference in Beijing.
He disclosed that 53 Chinese suspects in economic crimes were repatriated
More than 300 suspects have been repatriated from about 30 countries over the
years, such as Yu Zhendong, former head of the Kaiping branch of Bank of China
in Guangdong Province, who was accused of embezzling US$ 82.5 million in public
Yu was returned to China in 2004 after the government agreed he would not
face execution. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail earlier this year for
Ministry figures show that more than 800 suspects, accused of embezzling
nearly 70 billion yuan (US$ 8.75 billion) worth of property and funds, had fled
abroad and apart from about 320 who have been repatriated, around 500 are still
Ministry officials did not confirm the date when Lai would be deported, only
saying that they had noticed media reports on developments in the case.
The Canadian Press, the country's national news agency, reported last week
that Lai would face deportation this Friday after a final review known as a
pre-removal assessment concluded he would not be in danger if deported to China.
As the kingpin of China's most notorious smuggling case in Xiamen, Fujian
Province, Lai is accused of smuggling US$10 billion worth of goods including
cars and cigarettes in collaboration with corrupt officials.
He fled to Canada in 1999 with his family, and has been trying to gain
refugee status in the country.
China has urged Canada to extradite Lai as soon as possible, said Foreign
Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao yesterday.
Liu said the Chinese Government had taken a firm stance on the issue and has
reiterated its position to the Canadian Government.
"Tracking down suspects who have fled abroad is still difficult due to the
different judicial systems of China and other countries," said Xiang Dang, a
professor with the foreign-related police affairs department of Chinese People's
Public Security University.
Many countries are unwilling to send criminal suspects back to China because
they may face the death penalty, which has been abolished or is only applied to
murderers in most countries, he said.
"But the recent repatriation treaty between China and Spain shows that
there's room for discussion on this issue," he said.
The treaty, the first of its kind that China has signed with a European or
North American country, said criminal suspects repatriated from Spain would not
There are also differences on how to handle property and money seized abroad.
"Currently, China requests repatriation of all illegal proceeds seized
abroad, but some countries insist on retaining part of it," Xiang said.
The ministry also announced yesterday that Chinese police busted more than
60,000 cases of economic crimes last year, mostly in finance, trade, taxation
and securities sectors.
More than 50,000 suspects were arrested and 14.3 billion yuan (US$ 1.79