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Chinese Criminal Main Obstacle To Tourism Industry

Clipped From The Welland Tribune

The ongoing case of “China’s most wanted criminal” – arrested in Niagara Falls in 2000 – is the main obstacle to Canada attracting millions of tourists from the world’s most populous country, some observers of Canada-China relations say.

Canada has tried to extradite Lai Changxing to face prosecution in his native China, where he stands accused of masterminding a massive smuggling and corruption scheme involving government officials.

But Lai’s lawyers have blocked that process in court, creating a diplomatic tiff that spilled over into China’s relationship with Canada.

Lai’s case has been the “major sticking point” preventing China from granting Canada “approved destination status,” a designation that would allow millions of Chinese travellers to come to Canada each year, said Brock University professor Charles Burton, who has testified as a government witness at hearings in the Lai matter.

“I don’t see the approved destination status as connected to anything but the Lai case,” Burton said in an interview.

Niagara Falls council last week voted to step up the pressure on the Canadian government to secure approved destination status from China. With the number of Americans coming to Niagara in decline, the local tourism industry should look to the massive Chinese market and Ottawa needs to remove whatever roadblocks exist, says Coun. Vince Kerrio. “We need to crank up the heat on the government to get this moving again,” Kerrio said.

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