With the NPC and the CPPCC in progress in Beijing, the annual orgy of relationship making and strengthening is in full swing. One of the men who played that game best during the 1990s was Lai Changxing, the Fujian businessman who built a massive smuggling operation – the Yuanhua Group – which is now dubbed the largest smuggling case in China’s history.
When the Beijing meetings opened last week, the delegates in a ritual manner demanded the return of Lai, who is in Canada and has been fighting extradition for years.
But down in Fujian, Lai is still viewed positively. He is not a criminal, he just had the misfortune to get caught, one Fujian businessman told me. Furthermore, he said, many officials in the Chinese government don’t really want Lai back at all – he knows too many secrets and having him back in China divulging them would not be convenient.
I imagine the Chinese authorities are aware of this and are planning an approach that will take that problem into account, i.e. execution.