Lai Changxing : biography
Lai Changxing (born 1958) began as a Chinese businessman and entrepreneur from Jinjiang, Fujian, People's Republic of China. He was the founder and Chairman of the lucrative Yuanhua Group, based in the Special Economic Zone of Xiamen. At his height he has been credited with converting China from communism to capitalism and bringing the country into the World Trade Organization.August, Oliver.  (2007) Inside the Red Mansion: On the trail of China's most wanted man. Houghton Mifflin company. ISBN 978-0-618-71498-8. kindle ebook pg 17–19. He imported foreign products like cars, cigarettes and was responsible for one-sixth of the national oil imports at one time. In the late 1990s he was implicated in corruption scandals involving a large smuggling ring. By 1999 he was described by several media organizations as "China's most wanted fugitive" and was arrested.August, Oliver.  (2007) Inside the Red Mansion: On the trail of China's most wanted man. Houghton Mifflin company. ISBN 978-0-618-71498-8. kindle ebook pg 66.
Lai evaded Chinese authorities and went to Canada, where he resided in Vancouver. After a lengthy extradition battle and diplomatic negotiations Canadian authorities deported him to China on July 22, 2011 upon promises that he would not be executed. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. 18 May 2012 BBC News
On May 18, 2012, Lai Changxing was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of smuggling and bribery by the Intermediate People’s Court in Xiamen. In addition, all of his property was confiscated.
When Lai was age 18, Mao Zedong died and businesses were allowed to function again under Deng Xiaoping. He began working at a farming machinery factory before it shut down. At 20 he started a business making simple car parts. The business took off and turned into an empire. Within a decade he was the country's biggest private car importer.
In 1990 Lai tried to run a business to import duty-free TVs, where he made thousands. Two government officials from Shaocuo demanded fees be paid to them.August, Oliver.  (2007) Inside the Red Mansion: On the trail of China's most wanted man. Houghton Mifflin company. ISBN 978-0-618-71498-8. kindle ebook pg 103–104. When Lai refused, the two officials went to his house. At the time Lai was not home, but his sister was. The officials asked for business accounts, but she refused to give in. She was then beaten severely and sent to the hospital. The officials then started a tax fraud case. Lai would win in court, but his revenge campaign against Communist officials would tie up his businesses. Lai left Shaocuo and from this point on, played by the Communist party rule to bribe everyone.
In 1994 Lai founded Fairwell Group, also known as Yuanhua Group (远华集团有限公司), a prominent group of upstart companies that took advantage of the economic boom of Xiamen's status as a Special Economic Zone. The group was heavily involved in the importing/smuggling of cars, cigarettes and oil. The group invested heavily in the city's real estate, hotels, clubs, roads and other infrastructure. Lai also has his own brand of Fairwell cigarettes.
In the mid 1990s Xiamen no longer regulated maximum building heights. Many rich businessmen tried to build the tallest skyscrapers. Lai built the 88-floor Yuanhua tower and the Yuanhua International Centre with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by 2000 guests. Each guest received a 3000-yuan red envelope.August, Oliver.  (2007) Inside the Red Mansion: On the trail of China's most wanted man. Houghton Mifflin company. ISBN 978-0-618-71498-8. kindle ebook pg 60. Lai had prominent connections with the Fujian power elite; he was also a member of the Provincial Consultative Conference.
Lai was believed to be the mastermind of a US$10 billion scheme, during which he allegedly bribed high level officials in the administration of the Xiamen Special Economic Zone in order to smuggle luxury cars and entire tanker-loads of oil into the country. The smuggling ring fraudulently avoided US$3.6 billion in taxes and fees. Chinese authorities do not comment on allegations that Lai's Yuanhua group was also a conduit for clandestine military shipments, such as Silkworm missiles.
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