Jia Qinglin

Smuggling 'kingpin' to expose officials

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 July, 2006, 12:00am


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Lai Changxing plans to fight extradition with a book about his life that names names

China's most-wanted man - Lai Changxing - has commissioned a book about his life that could embarrass senior mainland officials he claims helped his rise to fame and wealth.

Lai, facing extradition to the mainland from Canada, has also accepted an offer from a Hong Kong film company to tell how he rose from humble origins to build a multimillion-dollar empire.

The moves are seen as a tactic by Lai in his deportation battle to make public his claims that dubious business practices were widespread in Xiamen , Fujian province , and involved top officials who have gone unpunished.

Mainland authorities have accused Lai of being the mastermind behind a network based in Xiamen that smuggled up to US$10 billion worth of goods with the protection of corrupt government officials.

Lai has fought against his extradition since arriving in Canada as an asylum seeker in August 1999, claiming he will be executed if he is returned to the mainland. He was due to be deported on June 2, but the Federal Court of Canada stayed the order until it could hear his arguments that it was unsafe for him to return.

Faced with the possibility that he may be sent home, Lai is using his knowledge of many top officials, both in his native Xiamen and Beijing, and is said to be willing to give testimony against some. While many have already been arrested or executed, others remain in their jobs or have been promoted.

Lai has commissioned three friends to write his story, and the book is expected to be published in Hong Kong in three months.

'I want the book to explain how my business grew step by step. My name has been blackened,' Lai said in Vancouver.

'The real situation is not as the government has said. I want to explain the real situation. The investigation team arrested those who should not have been arrested and left untouched those who should have been arrested.'

Members of his family are said to have been in touch with the Communist Party's Central Disciplinary Committee, offering his testimony against certain officials.

According to informed sources, two people are especially vulnerable - Lin Youfang, who is the wife of Politburo member Jia Qinglin , and Jia Tingan, a People's Liberation Army general as well as a former secretary of then-party chief Jiang Zemin .

Jia Qinglin worked in Fujian province from 1985 to 1996, the period when Lai was most active. Ms Lin held senior positions in a state provincial trading company.

After the couple moved to Beijing, where Mr Jia became mayor, rumours circulated that Ms Lin had taken money from Lai, and that then-premier Zhu Rongji had told Mr Jia to divorce her to clear his name.

The rumours were given credence when Ms Lin suddenly appeared on Phoenix television on January 27, 2000, sitting in an armchair at home. She said that she and her husband had enjoyed a happy married life for nearly 40 years, and during his years in the foreign trade business in Fujian, she had never met Lai nor heard of his Yuan Hua company. The sources said that Mr Jia was protected by his close friendship with Mr Jiang, stretching back more than 40 years.

Lai also alleged he had close ties to General Jia, who was private secretary to Mr Jiang before heading his private office in 1993.

Lai said in Vancouver that of Mr Jiang's five secretaries, he knew three, and knew General Jia best.

In 2004, General Jia was appointed director of the Central Military Commission's general office - the PLA's highest administrative organ that runs the day-to-day operations of the elite military policymaking body and carries out its orders.