BEIJING — China appealed to all nations, especially the countries attractive to China’s corruption fugitives, such as the United States, Canada and Australia, to work with it to combat transnational corruption, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Nov 26.
China calls for joint efforts to cement cooperation in judicial and law enforcement, Xu Hong, director-general of the Department of Treaty and Law under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said during a news conference.
The country wants to combat transnational corruption crime alongside those countries which are deemed a “safe haven” by corrupt fugitives, Xu said.
Xu recognized there are “tremendous challenges and difficulties” in the drive to root out corruption, detain those that have fled abroad and recover illicit assets internationally.
Some countries are reluctant to sign an extradition repatriation treaty with China due to a lack of understanding of China’s laws and judicial practice, according to Xu.
He said it is necessary for these countries to strengthen political willingness and discard prejudice. Meanwhile, China will increase communication with these countries to boost mutual trust, better handle legal barriers and explore pragmatic cooperation.
China started negotiations on mutual legal assistance and extradition treaties in the 1980s. As of November 2014, China has concluded 39 extradition treaties and 52 criminal judicial assistance treaties with other countries, among which 29 extradition treaties and 46 criminal judicial assistance treaties are already in force.
“China has basically established the legal network for hunting fugitives fleeing abroad and recovering illicit assets, which covers major countries in each continent after nearly 30 years of unremitting efforts,” Xu said.
The Foreign Ministry will continue to press ahead with negotiations on bilateral judicial cooperation treaties, as well as expanding the related legal cooperation network, and resort to multilateral treaties such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption to pursue criminals and return their illicit funds.
China has signed extradition treaties with some Western countries including France, Spain, Australia, Italy and Portugal. The treaties signed with Spain and Portugal are already in effect.
China approved a treaty with Australia, but the Australian Parliament has yet to ratify it over concerns.
“Both sides touched upon the issue during President Xi’s visit to Australia this month and Australia said it would speed up the ratification process,” Xu said.
Speaking highly of the cooperation on judicial and law-enforcement between China and the US as an important channel, Xu acknowledged that the lack of an extradition treaty remained a major obstacle, thus making extradition cooperation impossible.
China can only take other steps, such as repatriation, prosecution and trial of the suspects in the US, he said.
US laws state that only through a treaty can two countries cooperate on extradition, even the UN Convention against Corruption cannot serve as the legal basis for extradition. “But the US seems unprepared for such treaty.”