Canada can no longer be the top destination for corrupt Chinese official

Lai Changxing arrives at a 2011 Immigration and Refugee Board hearing. He was returned to Beijing later that year. Photo: Nick Procaylo/Postmedia News/Files
 
Canada, the beautiful country with maple leaf on its national flag, has long been one of the top destinations for overseas Chinese, although it is also known as a perfect sanctuary for corrupt Chinese officials to flee to. The Lai Changxing case around the turn of the century had led to a lengthy extradition battle and diplomatic negotiations between China and Canada, indicating huge differences between the two. However, judicial cooperation on fighting corruption has gained some major breakthroughs recently.  
 
During Premier Li’s recent visit to Canada, the two governments sealed a deal on return of assets stolen by fugitive corrupt officials, which is the first agreement of its kind reached by China, signaling landmark progress in the country’s efforts on recovering stolen assets. 
 
The efforts would cut off the money from fugitives. Based on the agreement, certain legal measures would be applied to confiscate criminal proceeds to cut ground from under criminals’ feet and also serve as an alarm to those considering about fleeing or transferring money to other countries.  
 
The agreement is partly due to China’s active push and partly thanks to Canada’s recognition of the dirty money’s evil consequences. It is widely reported that rich overseas Chinese have been inflating the country’s high-end housing market. For example, a Chinese student is reported to have bought a luxury house for around 31.1 million Canadian dollars (RMB 0.157 billion); another student is said to have earned 1.16 million Canadian dollars by speculating on the market. These developments have stunned the maple leaf country.  
 
People have no idea where the money for fancy houses comes from considering students usually have no income. But one consequence is clear - housing prices have witnessed an obvious rise. Based on a ranking of ratios of house prices to average income by the US consultancy Longview Economics, Vancouver has become the sixth city with the highest home prices, reported CNBC. 
 
With the process of globalization, the international community has recognized the loss caused by cross-border criminals would not only hurt the source country but the country they flee to. It can have a disruptive influence on the legal system of the host country. In this context, the conclusion of the agreement is a natural outcome.  
 
Following efforts to recover assets, further actions against fugitives are needed to be taken. The premiers of the two countries talked about an extradition agreement at the joint press conference. Just about 10 days ago, the two countries agreed to kick off related discussions on extradition issues. Once signed, Canada would be liable to extradite criminal suspects, in which case, fugitives like Lai Changxing could no longer hide in the country that has a different legal system with China.   
 
During the period of the first China-Canada High-Level National Security and Rule of Law Dialogue, the secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China and the successor to Zhou Yongkang said, cooperation in the fields are vital to bilateral relations and hoped the two countries could fully implement all the agreements and forge new spotlight on bilateral exchanges. 
 
For a long time, China’s cooperation with Western countries has been basically limited to the economic sector. In the security and rule of law field that represents core values, there have been few breakthroughs. Now, the landmark achievement is expected to become a model for countries of different social systems to work hand in hand. Besides, it is highly expected that the model could have some influence on the United States, also a major sanctuary for Chinese fugitives. 
 
This is certainly the first step to kick off the initiative. The two countries still diverge in their perspectives about death penalty when it comes to extradition. There is a long way to go, and both China and Canada need to continue the negotiation. We expect them to put aside minor differences so as to seek common ground, in order to push forward joint efforts. 

The article is translated and edited by Rebecca Lin. 

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