Lai Changxing Writes His Memoirs

Lai Changxing (賴昌星) is the smuggling kingpin involved in the greatest known corruption case in the history of the People's Republic of China.  He is presently fighting a deportation order in Canada and part of his argument is based upon the fact that Canada does not deport people to countries where they could face possible execution.  The following is the translation of an article in Asia Weekly (Yahzhou Zhoukan) in which Lai Changxing discloses his intention to publish his memoirs.  Strategically, he ought to write a book that is extremely damaging to China (the truth be damned!) and then he can use the resulting criticisms to prove that he will be in peril if deported.

(Asia Weekly via ChineseNewsNet)  By Wang Jianmin (王健民)

[in translation]

The principal suspect in the Xiamen Yuanhua case Lai Changxing fled to Canada and recently received a stay from a Canadian Federal judge about the decision to deport him back to China.  So this case that has been going on for seven years has taken yet another twist and this wanted criminal in China has received yet another chance.  Lai Changxing estimates that he should get another three to five years more in Canada.  So he has decided to use this time to launch a counter-offensive.  He wants to narrate his own story in detail, including the truth about him and the unrevealed portions of the Yuanhua case, so that the Chinese people around the world can hear what he has to say and explain.

Lai Changxing told Asia Weekly that he has decided to write a book and then tell his personal experiences and the truth about the Yuanhua case: "I want to let more people in China know about how I grew up, how I conducted my business and what I did step by step."  He said that his business, his inner thoughts and his deals with senior Chinese Communist officials "are known only to myself.  I was not a murderer or arsonist like what the Chinese authorities say.  I was just a businessman.  The Chinese people are only listening to the one-sided story of the Chinese government.  They do not know what I am really like as a person."

At this time, Lai Changxing is said to have decided to let Mirror Books of the United States publish his book.  Mirror Books owner He Ping told Asia Weekly that Lai Changxing called him to "discuss the book."  He thought that it is a good thing if Lai Changxing publishes a book.  "This gives us a chance to get a more complete picture of the Yuanhua case.  Previously, the only sources were the Chinese government and the media, and people have many doubts about the official version.  These 'big cases' usually have political factors and complicated backgrounds.  The principals do not have the opportunity to explain for themselves because the outsiders can only read the 'confessions.'  So the connections to senior officials and the deep structural reasons are glossed over.  Therefore, if Lai Changxing can really tell his story factually, it should be a good chance for him to defend himself as well as having positive meaning for the Chinese legal system."

Lai Changxing said that he began writing the book on June 7th.  There are two assistants helping him.  Since Lai Changxing is not highly educated, he does not actually write the book.  Rather, he narrates the story and the two assistants records what he says.  Then after they organized the writing, Lai will edit and revise accordingly.  Lai Changxing said that the book will be published in about three months' time.

In the book, he will disclose in detail his relationships with many former Chinese Communist officials, including how he went to the home of Jiang Zemin, how he made friends with Jia Qinglin, and what his ties are to senior generals of the People's Liberation Army.  He disagrees with the "bribery" charges that the Chinese government has leveled against him.  According to his own explanation, he has exchanged money with certain Chinese Communist officials, but that was just "gifts between friends" in which "he did not ask for and he did not receive any favors."  Therefore, according to the relevant Chinese criminal laws, "bribery" cannot be established.  He believes that his case "will be clarified some day" and "it will be clear as to who the good and bad officials are."

Lai Changxing admitted to the "smuggling" charge in a roundabout way.  He said that the system was imperfect in that era and "every business person will do the same.  Therefore I looked for the loopholes in the system.  I was guilty of what every business person would do."  He said: "When I was in business, many officials look me up.  For as long as this case has been going on, who has really helped me?  I will never admit to bribery."  He said: "I hate corrupt officials."  Lai Changxing said that he has evidence that the special investigative team for the Yuanhua case made vast amounts of money for themselves.  "It was very corrupt and very infuriating.  They showed the relevant testimonies to the suspects, who can still get off if they paid up."

He said that he has proof that the 420 special case team was unfair and their investigators used the case to make money for themselves.  "Some of the 420 people and suspects have private transactions.  I cannot prove who got what, but I have proof about who paid up."  Lai Changxing said: "I will be responsible for everything that I say.  Some of the people in the special case team are corrupt."

He said that after he fled from Hong Kong to Canada, "I left behind 12,000 tons of fuel on two ships.  The person in the company responsible for running the fuel business sold the fuel.  Where did the money go?  I know that he was also investigated but he used the money to pay off the person who was responsible for investigating this part of the case and therefore he got off.  It is easy for them to find out who was responsible for that part of the investigation."  He does not trust the 420 special case team.  "I know the secrets of how 420 handles the case.  They use the case to make money.  If the central government wants to investigate the case, they better organize another special case team.  I am willing to cooperate.  I am willing to cooperate with the Chinese consulate to get to the truth of the case.  I can also testify via television."  Lai Changxing said if he were examined via television, "I won't need a lawyer and I will defend myself."

Lai Changxing said that the way that the Yuanhua assets have been managed over the years showed how serious the "inside-outside collusion" has been.  "I spent more then 10 million yuan for the Huajing Garden villa that I used to live in, but it was auctioned off for just over 5 million yuan in spite of the rise in real estate property prices.  More than 300 million yuan had been invested in the Xiamen Yuanhua Hotel, but it was auctioned for just over 100 million yuan.  I heard that during the auction, there were gangsters at the front door preventing other people from participating."

In this soon-to-appear autobiography, Lai Changxing said that he will disclose certain secrets about the Yuanhua case, including "how I did business and how to run the fuel (diesel and vegetable) business."  He pointed out that the 420 special case team did not act properly.  For example, for the charges against him for smuggling diesel fuel, "the computer at the fuel storage depot contains records of the number of tons of fuel on each ship and who gave the letter of credit.  But they pinned everything on me.  I don't accept that.  I will admit what I did but I will not admit to what I did not do."

Lai Changxing hoped that the authorities can re-investigate the fuel problem and he is even willing to be interrogated by television.  He said: "They can ask questions by television and I can answer from Canada on television.  This will allow the Chinese people to know what kind of person I am, and also let the national leaders listen to what I say.  I am willing to cooperate."

Lai Changxing said that he is still able to speak out in Canada, and that is bad for some of the corrupt officials.  Therefore he said, "While I am still in Canada, I should speak more and let the whole story come out.  The Chinese people can judge for themselves whether I am right or the special case team is right."

He said: "I love my country.  All these years, I dream about going back.  But I cannot go back, because I am dead as soon as I get back.  The lights will go out if I go back."  Therefore, he wants to write a book to tell his own story and let the Chinese people know that "I am more patriotic than anyone else."

Over these years, Lai Changxing was a "criminal fugitive" wanted by the the Chinese government.  Although he appears relaxed, he is actually worried.  He says that he does not regret what he did, but he is sorry for the all the troubles brought upon his children.  "But I have never shed a tear."  He said: "I want the people of China and the national leaders to learn the truth of the matter."

Lai Changxing entered Canada in August 1999 with a Hong Kong SAR passport.  But the Hong Kong government cancelled his permanent residency years ago on the grounds that he received it through "illegal means."  Lai Changxing has asked for a judicial review in the Hong Kong court concerning his residency status.  Lai said: "There were 58 people who applied for the one-way pass at the same time that I did.  How come only my and my wife's applications were false?"

Concerning the Canadian Federal Court's decision to delay his deportation, Lai Changxing praised the fairness of Canadian law.  He said that his lawyer's "most powerful weapon" was that if he should be persecuted or executed in China, then the harm cannot be undone.  This is a life-or-death issue that cannot be treated lightly, and that is why the Federal judge issued the stay order.  Concerning his next steps, Lai is confident that the case should continue for "at least another three or five years" from the viewpoint of the law.  Therefore, he said, "I will use this time and do some things."