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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
'No bidders' for Chinese fugitive's hotel
Rubbish collectors by the Yuanhua International Plaza
The complex was designed as a 'jewel in the crown'
A $20m hotel complex built by China's most-wanted fugitive Lai Changxing has gone up for auction.

But reports from the coastal city of Xiamen said there were no bids for the Yuanhua International Plaza, planned as the jewel in the crown of Mr Lai's business empire.

Lai Changxing
Lai Changxing is accused of masterminding a $10bn smuggling racket
Mr Lai remains in Canada, fighting extradition to China and denying charges that he was behind a network that smuggled $10bn worth of goods into China from Hong Kong, protected by corrupt officials.

The 30-storey twin-towered complex was built in Xiamen, a prosperous city on the mainland opposite Taiwan, but was still unfinished when Mr Lai and his family fled to Canada in 1999.

Now completed, auctioneers set the minimum price for the Yuanhua International Plaza at 168 million yuan ($20.3m).

Silence

The Associated Press news agency reported that dozens of people gathered in an auditorium on Thursday for the auction.

But there was only silence when the sale was opened.

The auction will now be rescheduled.

Some 300 suspects have been tried and more than a dozen sentenced to death in connection with Mr Lai's company, Yuanhua Group Incorporated.

Those convicted include a deputy city customs chief who actually helped design the label for Mr Lai's brand of cigarettes.

See also:

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