Fugitive Chinese businessman Lai Changxing arrived back in Beijing on Saturday after being deported from Canada, ending a 12-year legal and diplomatic tug-of-war that tested the countries' relations. Lai landed in the Chinese capital aboard a civilian flight in the custody of Canadian police and was handed over to authorities who arrested him, state television said, quoting a Ministry of Public Security statement. China's Xinhua news agency had reported earlier that Lai had been flown from the Canadian west coast city of Vancouver. Canadian authorities moved swiftly to return Lai after a federal court on Thursday ruled he should be deported -- a move blocked for years by Canada's courts and refugee board out of fear he could be executed or tortured. Canada, which does not have capital punishment, bans the return of prisoners to countries where they might be put to death. But China has issued an unusual promise not to execute Lai -- believed to be 52 -- if he is tried and found guilty. Lai's repatriation marks a victory for Beijing, which had tried for more than a decade to secure his return -- and the removal of a diplomatic headache for Ottawa. Lai is accused of running a smuggling ring in southeastern China's Fujian province that moved contraband variously estimated to be worth between $6 billion and $10 billion. China's state-run media said it could prove to be the largest case of economic crime in the country since the Communists took over in 1949. Lai fled to Canada with his family in 1999 after the case emerged, rocking Fujian's political establishment and leading to the dismissal or arrest of a number of officials there implicated in alleged wrongdoing. Lai sought asylum in Canada, where he arrived on a tourist visa with his then wife, two sons and a daughter, saying the Chinese accusations against him were politically motivated. The businessman's lawyers have argued that several of his associates have died or vanished in China's justice system. But he has been called a "common criminal" by politicians and judges in Canada. The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that it "welcomed" the court move to authorise his deportation, calling Lai the "primary criminal suspect" in the case. The statement also said Beijing "has held a very clear position on repatriating Lai to be tried according to the law". Lai will now likely face a trial in China and a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. Xinhua quoted Chinese legal experts saying he would not face execution.