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August 7, 2009

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Fugitive Lai vows to fight to remain in Canada

CHINA'S most-wanted fugitive will continue his legal fight to remain in Canada even though his ex-wife and daughter returned recently to their hometown in Fujian Province, according to a media report yesterday.

The comments by Lai Changxing, who masterminded a smuggling operation valued at US$10 billion and touched off a high-profile corruption scandal in Fujian Province in the 1990s, were reported in the Canada-based Chinese newspaper Global China Press.

They followed a report earlier this week that Lai's ex-wife, Zeng Mingna, and his daughter had returned home of their own volition after 10 years on the run in Canada.

Zeng was also wanted by the Chinese government, but it was unclear whether she would be prosecuted.

The couple divorced in Canada in 2005. Their two sons are still in that country with their father.

In the interview, Lai admitted that he missed his hometown badly and longed to return "one day in the future."

"I've had a very stressful life in the 10 years since I came to Canada," the 56-year-old told the Canadian newspaper. "There's been a lot of pressure, both mental and financial."

In addition to the massive smuggling operation based in Fujian's Xiamen, Lai was also allegedly responsible for the biggest corruption scandal in the 1990s.

More than 700 government officials were involved in receiving sex and money in return for protection, and 14 of them were sentenced to death.

Lai admitted to tax fraud but claimed he was just using loopholes in Chinese laws to make more money.

Lai has been in and out of detention in Canada over illegal-immigration charges. He is also fighting extradition to his home country.


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