Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Most wanted fugitive now blogging?

Road to the most wanted fugitive

As the mastermind of the largest smuggling ring ever, whose enterprise amounts to 10 billion dollars, Lai Changxing is a legendary criminal, also a controversial public figure in China. Before he fled to Canada when the central government was determined to root out his kingdom, he is indisputable the most powerful man in Xiamen, a rich coastal city. He has smuggled in numerous luxury cars and tanker-loads of oil. In 1997, one single year, 10% oil the entire China consumed was imported through his enterprise. More than that, cigarettes, cooking oil, TVs and many other items are on his smuggling list as well.

Though only with grade school diploma, he overawed, corrupted and controlled almost the entire local bureaucrat, particularly the custom system.

It is rare in China that a businessman's power can override that of the government, But Mr. Lai seems to be an exception. The amazing wealth and his “generosity” is the key. He used to claim, that “I fear no government cadres, what I fear is that the cadres have no desire.” As long as a man has desire, in Lai's mind, he is subject to manipulation.

He owns a mysterious building called “red chamber”, which is actually a luxury club where he makes the cadres feel like in paradise. In a few years, Lai has managed to weave so strong a network of umbrella, that in the investigation, 700 officials, including Li Jizhou, the Deputy Minister of Public Security in Beijing, and Lan Pu, the vice mayor of Xiamen, were found bribed by Lai. If it were not a phone call from one of his friend in Public Security, Lai would have been captured and sentenced to death, rather than being a fugitive now in Canada.

Since then, he has been threatened by extradition all the time. His staying in Canada has become a sensitive point of China-Canada relationship. Losing his aura, how is his life like today?

TIME has interviewed him, showing his no-more-dazzling life in a unfamiliar foreign country; however, recently it seems that he himself is going to stand out to tell his own stories. He starts to blogs.

Lai blogging?
In KDNET, a popular discussion board, a post named “Lai is blogging, what is he trying to say?” showed up on March 3, which quickly draws great attention.

The name Lai Changxing itself is enough to be a headline. In 1999, stories about him almost filled newspapers everyday. Depicting him as an unforgivable sinner, however, it seems that the dark side of the Chinese bureaucrat is also relentlessly exposed.

In the post, a link directs people to a social networking website, like facebook, called That'sMetro. Named Fat-Xing, the blogger's first post is about his early life, which is completely consistent with that of Lai.

His second post is now more well-known, which is like an apology, also an accusation of the larger corruption and injustice ongoing  in today's China.

He talks about smuggling

再说说走私。我理解的走私是把外国的好东西运到本国来,坏东西是没有人要运的(或者说走私的)。10多年前或者20多年前,走私的汽车也好,设备也好,电脑也好,只要走私的就代表高质量的。联想集团的柳大哥,你们公司是不是也是走私起家的?如果世界上没有贸易壁垒,能有走私吗?这就是我说的制度的漏洞。这种贸易壁垒,各个国家都有的,不过,西方国家抓到走私的,一般罚款为主,即使判刑也很轻的。因为走私没有损害他人的基本生存权利,没有剥夺任何人的生命权,最多是把财富进行再分配….

Let me talk about smuggling. My understanding is that smuggling is just to bring the good things from abroad to China. Nobody wants bad things. About a decade or two ago, all that is smuggled are of high quality. Mr. Liu (boss of Lenovo, the largest computer company in China), isn't your company also founded on smuggling? If there is no trade barrier in the world, would there  still be smuggling? That's the loophole of our system.
In western countries, mostly smugglers are simply fined, because they doesn't hurt anyone's fundamental rights. It doesn't threaten people's life. At most it is a redistribution of wealth….

说到剥夺人的生命权,这不得不提及一个人,他就叫牛根生,蒙牛公司的老板。牛老板的生意就是杀人,剥夺人的生命权,老人不放过,年轻人不放过,特别是从娃娃杀起。

Talking about depriving people of their life, I have to mention one person. His name is Niu Gensheng, the boss of Meng Niu Dairy. His business is wholly for depriving people of their life. He doesn't let go anyone, whether the old, the young, or babies.

Here, he alludes to the melamine crisis not long ago, which kills several infants due to the illegal addition of chemicals in infant formula. In addition, Meng Niu was accused of using MOP, another chemical that is potential to cause cancer.

A unforgivable smuggler, or a businessman born in a wrong time?

The authenticity of the blog is not yet clear. There have been claims that the website is not trustworthy, because when the decapitation murder in Virgina Tech happened, the killer's blog is also said to be found there. Therefore, people doubt the blog is faked just for advertising for the website.

However, it is the comments left that are interesting. The unpardonable sinner  in 1999, after 10 years’ fugitive life, seems to have changed his impression on public's mind, becoming more and more amiable. A handful of comments express their deep compassion with Lai.

有隆奶大 says:

星哥,阮专程注册来顶你。但愿你身在他乡能幸福过日子,不再受迫害

Xing, I come here just to support you. Hope you can have a good time abroad, no longer threatened by any prosecution.

牛逼党主席 said,

以前天天听老大的大名。终于有机会来回帖子。
一梦醒来,发现自己以前被愚的厉害
同样发现很多国人被渔民的厉害
肥仔,继续写博,偶们支持你的自由。

I heard your name everyday before. Now I finally have a chance to respond to you.
Waking up from dream, I found I have been fooled so much and so long before. So are many of my countrymen. Keep blogging, we now stand with your freedom.

快乐大灰狼

2000年我正好在厦门,每天都要经过那幢你曾经引以为豪的大厦(可惜没完工),那时候每天听到最多的就是你的传奇故事,还有些有的没的传闻。不过我听到的90%的厦门市民对你都是有好感的…

I happened to be in Xiamen in 2000. I passed by the Red Chamber everyday, hearing all about your legend and anecdotes. I have also heard that 90% Xiamen citizens think you did good to them.

One of the reasons that Lai, a criminal supposed to be despised by the country but nevertheless favored by the public opinion now, is the low price of oil he used to bring about.

A dialogue blogger 百草止水 noted down in his blog reflects why a cab driver thinks Lai contributed to the oil price that used to be affordable, by competing with the state-control monopolies,  CNPC and CPCC.

The oil price just started to climb up at the time. I was in a taxi chatting with the driver.

百草止水:师傅,现在油价上涨,您的油钱多开支不少吧?
司机:谁说不是呢,我们辛辛苦苦赚的钱,很大部分都送给石油公司了。
百草止水:其实石油公司也多赚不到多少钱,他们的炼油成本也涨,利润增加不了多少。
司机:你不懂,国际油价上涨,他们就立即上调油价;国际油价下跌,他们要延迟许久才会把油价降下来。这里面道道很多,他们怎么说都有理,老百姓搭不上话。

Blogger: The oil price is surging. You must spend a lot on the petroleum?
Driver: Yes, exactly. The money we labor to earn mostly go to the oil companies.
Blogger: But actually they don't earn much either, don't they? The crude oil is getting more expensive too, so not much profit can they actually gain.
Driver: No, you don't know the fact. They raise the price of product oil as soon as the international price goes up, but they fall far behind when the international price slumps. They control everything and we people can say nothing.

Hearing that, the blogger curiously mentioned that the two leading oil companies, CNPC and CPCC, have always been grumbling that the gap between the domestic and international oil price make them suffer from deep deficit. According to the complaint, they buy dear oil in global market, have it refined, and then sold petroleum products in a restrictively low price to Chinese people. The driver shot out a snort of disbelief.

司机:你想啊,如果国内油价比国外低,走私能赚钱吗?只有国内油价远远高于国际价格,才会有人甘冒杀头的危险去走私。赖昌星通过走私赚了数百亿元,钱从哪里来?不就是国内油价高出国际价格的部分吗?

Driver: Think about that, if the domestic oil price is really lower than that in abroad, would smuggling be any bit profitable? Only when the domestic price is much higher, would people risk death to smuggle. Lai Changxing earned billions. Where is that from? It is exactly from the gap by which the domestic price exceeds the international price.

Therefore, the driver concluded,

司机:所以啊,我们司机都非常喜欢赖昌星,中国有十个赖昌星,汽油价格非剧烈下跌不可,也就不会像现在这样昂贵了。

So, we drivers like Lai very much. If there were ten Lai Changxing, the oil price would have fall down dramatically.

走私油冲击了国内燃油市场,从而迫使燃油掉价,老百姓就能得到实惠。

Lai's smuggled oil will break through the barrier set by the monopolies, and will force the oil price down. People can hence benefit.

Blogger One-point-five‘s article echoes the argument, decrying the leading oil companies as shameful:

去年,中石化在实现净利润396亿元的情况下,同样借助炼油部分亏损向政府一次性“领取”补助100亿元。

Last year, CPCC, regardless of its 39.6-billion net profit, asked for 10 billion compensation from the government, claiming that it bought crude oil in high price while sell low in product oil.

The logical fallacy is that, if Lai can smuggle from abroad and earn enormously, there is no reason that the domestic oil price should be lower.

That's why on the internet, a post widely circulated is boldly named:

怀念赖昌星,怀念一元多油价的日子

Missing Lai Changxing, missing the days with 1-Yuan oil.

3 comments

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.