China fumes as accused smuggler gets Canada work permit
China on Tuesday said it is not pleased with Canada's decision to grant a work permit to a Chinese man accused by Beijing of running a smuggling empire.
Lai Changxing, who received a work permit last week, has been fighting to remain in Canada since he fled China almost a decade ago.
"We express severe concern over Canada's decision. Our position on repatriation of Lai Changxing to be put on trial is solid and consistent," ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said during a regular government news briefing in Beijing.
"We are extremely concerned about the Canadian side's behaviour."
Lai, who is accused of masterminding a multibillion-dollar smuggling empire by bribing Chinese officials, has been living in Canada since 1999 and fighting extradition to China. He's wanted on bribery and smuggling charges.
He says he is at risk of political persecution if he is sent back to China.
Canada has denied his claim for asylum, but a Federal Court judge ruled he could not be deported because officials failed to consider whether he would be tortured by China.
Lai is the subject of an immigration assessment to determine what risk he would face if he's sent home.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, quoted by Reuters news agency, said people living under an order preventing their deportation have the right to a work permit if they cannot support themselves.
Lai's lawyer says the work permit means his client's deportation is not imminent. Lai lives under partial house arrest in Vancouver.
Lai told the Toronto Star last week he plans to sell real estate in the Vancouver area.
With files from the Canadian Press