Lai Chongxing, a Chinese national, who lived in Canada for over a decade and was extradited to China last year, is being prosecuted by the People’s Procuratorate of Xiamen City, Fujian Province in connection with the Yuanhoa Group smuggling and bribery case. Court hearings opened Feb. 13, the eve of Chinese Vice Chairman Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.S., the BBC Chinese network reported.
The Yuanhoa smuggling case is said to be the largest economic crime committed during the CCP’s history. As chairman of the Yuanhoa group, Lai was said to have been involved in embezzling and smuggling in the range of 80 billion yuan (US$12.7 billion) and evading taxes amounting to 30 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion). The case was considered highly sensitive for the alleged implication of Chinese government officials.
In 2000, 53-years-old Lai Chongxing fled to Canada together with his family and asked for asylum, prompting 12 years of diplomatic and judiciary negotiations between China and Canada.
The Xi Jinping Connection
Some analysts have commentated on the timing of the Lai prosecution coinciding with Xi’s high-profile U.S. visit.
It is noteworthy that while the Yuanhoa group was still in full operation, Xi Jinping served as the deputy secretary of the Fujian Provincial Committee and the secretary of Fuzhou Municipal Committee. Jia Qinglin, a current central politburo standing committee member, was the secretary of the Fujian Provincial Committee at that time. He Guoqiang, another incumbent central politburo standing committee member, was the governor of Fujian Province during the period from 1996 and 1999.
Overseas political commentator Wen Zhao said the proceeding of the prosecution means that the case was officially progressing and all the behind-the-scene deals had been achieved. The outcome of the prosecution will be a conviction, but not the death penalty, as the Chinese regime has to observe the agreement with the Canadian government, Wen said.
Analysts have pointed out that at this particularly sensitive moment during Xi’s visit to the U.S., the prosecution of the Yuanhua case was opportunely timed, clearly alluding to the overall discord within the Communist Party and its factions.
Xi, the man destined to become China’s leader later this year, has numerous Western ties—his sister lives in Canada, and his only daughter goes to school at Harvard.
Read the original Chinese article.