Beijing yesterday assured Canada that it would not execute alleged smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing if he was sent back to China.
Gan Yisheng , a vice-secretary of Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, told a news conference that China would not execute or torture Lai if Canada agreed to his extradition.
Following reports last weekend of a row between Canada and China over human rights, Mr Gan stressed that the central government always honoured its commitments.
'China is a big and responsible country which honours its word,' Mr Gan said, adding that many of Lai's associates, including Lai's younger brother, Lai Changtu , had had their jail terms reduced.
'I hereby assure you that the lawful rights of all the relative criminal suspects in the Lai Changxing case have been protected, and their dignity respected,' Mr Gan said.
Lai Changxing, the former boss of the notorious Yuanhua Group in Xiamen , has been fighting a seven-year battle to stay in Canada. In arguing against extradition requests made by China, Lai has said that the central government could not be trusted and his safety would be at risk if he was sent back to China. His elder brother, Lai Shuiqiang, died in a mainland prison in October 2002.
His case has become a point of tension between Canada and China. Ties between the two countries have been further strained since Stephen Harper became prime minister early last year.
At the weekend, Mr Harper again warned Beijing not to expand their human rights row into bilateral trade and to keep trade deals fair and above board.
Zhang Shuyi , a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, said Lai's concerns were understandable.
'His case involved too many important people,' he said.