Forgot your password?

Choose a newsletter

Premium access granted to you by Expatica

You've been given FREE premium access to Worldcrunch

Enter your email to begin


The Lai Changxing Trial - Justice In China Is A Show

Op-Ed: The trial of accused corrupt businessman Lai, who'd been extradited from Canada, leaves some in China more than a bit unsatisfied -- life sentence notwithstanding.

Article illustrative image Partner logo Lai Changxing arriving at the Beijing airport on July 2011 (Youtube)


BEJING -  Lai Changxing has now been sentenced to life in prison for smuggling, with a 15-year sentence tacked on for bribery. This news was announced by only a few of China’s official media with very limited detail.

Starting out as a businessman Lai Changxing founded the Yuanhua Group. At his height, Lai's group accounted for one-sixth of China’s national oil imports.

But between 1995 and 1999, Lai somehow got involved in smuggling ordinary commodities such as cigarettes, cars and oil at a value estimated around 27 billion RMB ($4.2 billion). He was accused of tax evasion of 14 billion RMB ($2.2 billion), and using some 40 million RMB ($6 million) to corrupt 64 government officials.

Lai had been a fugitive living in Canada for ten years until his extradition back to China last July.

This is a rather disappointing outcome for a sentence awaited by the public after a lengthy Sino-Canadian extradition battle. Not surprisingly, Lai is not to be executed following China’s promise to Canada.

China’s official media have indicated that Lai’s sentence is a warning and a crackdown on corrupt officials, as well as economic criminals who try to flee abroad.

Nevertheless, I hold an opposite view. I believe that because of criminals such as Lai Changxing, a lot of offenders will now be even more motivated to run away. If they are repatriated or return to China by their own will, they save their lives.

What is most important to note in this case is that since the return to China of Lai, the whole handling of his case has been kept absolutely confidential. From the prosecution, through the court trial to the sentence, all was kept quiet. There were only three newspaper journalists present at the sentence two days ago. All the other reporters were denied entry to the court.

Such a secretive trial involves at least two problems.

First, it’s a serious violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Constitution. Nobody can believe that this has been a fair trial. Instead, most people believe it to be a “show trial.” Therefore the claim of severely punishing Lai to demonstrate a disciplinary purpose will never be achieved.

But the even more serious problem is that the public expected that the repatriated Lai should have aided Chinese justice in finding out more information and evidence of the officials suspected of crimes. It’s obvious that under a tightly controlled judicial show, the names of the many officials involved in the case had been carefully filtered.  

Read more from the Economic Observer in Chinese. Original article by Chen Jieren

Photo - Youtube

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation

Sign up for our weekly Global Life newsletter now

Be a part of the conversation. Click to show comments
About this article source Website:

The Economic Observer is a weekly Chinese-language newspaper founded in April 2001. It is one of the top business publications in China. The main editorial office is based in Beijing, China. Inspired by the Financial Times of Britain, the newspaper is printed on peach-colored paper.

Worldcrunch brings top stories from the world's best news sources into English for the first time.

- Find out how we work
- Stay connected with our newsletter
- Try premium access for just $0.99

Want to get in touch or report a bug? Find us at

Load More Stories

Unlimited access to exclusive journalism, the best world news source across all your devices

Subscribe Now Photo of Worldcrunch on different devices

Your premium access to Worldcrunch is provided by

University of Central Lancashire

Please register to begin

By registering you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.