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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.

Lai Changxing arriving at the Beijing airport on July 2011 (Youtube)
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

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Why The U.S. Lost Its Leverage In The Middle East — And May Never Get It Back

In the Israel-Hamas war, Qatar now plays the key role in negotiations, while the United States appears increasingly disengaged. Shifts in the region and beyond require that Washington move quickly or risk ceding influence to China and others for the long term.

Photograph of U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken  shaking hands with sraeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

November 30, 2023, Tel Aviv, Israel: U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Chuck Kennedy/U.S State/ZUMA
Sébastien Boussois


PARIS — Upon assuming office in 2008, then-President Barack Obama declared that United States would gradually begin withdrawing from various conflict zones across the globe, initiating a complex process that has had a major impact on the international landscape ever since.

This started with the American departure from Iraq in 2010, and was followed by Donald Trump's presidency, during which the "Make America Great Again" policy redirected attention to America's domestic interests.

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The withdrawal trend resumed under Joe Biden, who ordered the exit of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2021. To maintain a foothold in all intricate regions to the east, America requires secure and stable partnerships. The recent struggle in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demonstrates that Washington increasingly relies on the allied Gulf states for any enduring influence.

Since the collapse of the Camp David Accords in 1999 during Bill Clinton's tenure, Washington has consistently supported Israel without pursuing renewed peace talks that could have led to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

While President Joe Biden's recent challenges in pushing for a Gaza ceasefire met with resistance from an unyielding Benjamin Netanyahu, they also stem from the United States' overall disengagement from the issue over the past two decades. Biden now is seeking to re-engage in the Israel-Palestine matter, yet it is Qatar that is the primary broker for significant negotiations such as the release of hostages in exchange for a ceasefire —a situation the United States lacks the leverage to enforce.

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