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Chinese court jails Japanese smuggler who imported banned beef disguised as fruit worth 13 million yuan

A Chinese court ordered a Japanese man to be expelled from the country once he has served a four-year jail term after he was convicted of smuggling banned Japanese beef worth more than 13 million yuan (HK$14 million), mainland media reports.

The man, who was also fined 300,000 yuan by Shanghai No 3 Intermediate People’s Court on Thursday, had been smuggling the beef into the country for nearly two years with the help of three other men – two Japanese and a Chinese, the news website Thepaper.cn reported.

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Imports of Japanese beef into the mainland have been banned by Chinese authorities since 2001 after it listed Japan as an area of mad cow disease, or BSE.

The Japanese beef was smuggled into China disguised as shipments of fruit and then bought by local wholesalers in Shanghai who sold it to Japanese restaurants in the city, the report said.

The Chinese man was jailed for two years and fined 100,000 yuan after being convicted of smuggling the banned meat.

The two other Japanese people detained in the case would be dealt with separately, the court said.

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The beef, which was smuggled into the city between August 2013 and March 2015, had been sold for more than 13 million yuan, the report said. A quantity of smuggled beef was also seized by the Shanghai authorities.

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The amount of seized smuggled beef would have been enough to cause food poisoning or serious diseases, the court said.

Two other Chinese men involved in storing and selling the beef were jailed for two years and three and a half years, respectively.