A long-time suspect in the October 2002 murder of Chinese student Wei Amanda Zhao in British Columbia has been arrested in China, after local officials acted on information provided by RCMP.

Chinese authorities quietly arrested Ang Li, Zhao's boyfriend at the time of her death, and his cousin, Zhang Han, this summer.

The victim's mother, 63-year-old Yang Baoying, said she felt "pretty calm" after hearing the news.

"Why? Because even if (the killer) is chopped into muddy flesh, it won't ease my hatred," she said during an interview with CTV British Columbia and The Globe and Mail.

"Two gold mountains can't bring back my child. My child ... was the ultimate goal of my life. So after I heard this news, I didn't feel shocked or excited or ... I felt it was a natural result."

Li had been the primary suspect in Zhao's murder, but he fled to China after the young woman's body was found in a duffel bag in a wooded area near Mission, B.C., about 80 kilometres east of Vancouver.

Eleven days earlier, Li had reported Zhao missing, telling police she had taken a trip to a store and hadn't returned.

RCMP investigators alleged that Zhang helped Li dispose of Zhao's body.

All three were Chinese nationals sharing an apartment as they attended school in B.C.

The RCMP charged Li, now 26, with second-degree murder, but jurisdictional disputes between Canadian and Chinese authorities have blocked his return to Canada.

Zhang, also 26, had originally confessed to helping Li, but that confession was thrown out on allegations it was not lawfully obtained.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday that he had heard of the arrests and said Chinese authorities were working closely with RCMP and Canadian officials on the case.

"We're glad to see, and I hope it brings some comfort to the family, the fact that a suspect is now in custody," Harper said when asked about the case during a news conference in Vancouver.

"Obviously there are multiple steps to ultimately have a trial and determine guilt or innocence. But we are committed to working fully with our Chinese counterparts to resolve this issue and get a conviction of those who are responsible."

It is not yet clear if Li and Zhang will face charges in China or be extradited to Canada.