BEIJING — As China appeals to other countries in extraditing Chinese officials suspected of having fled the country with ill-gotten funds, the country’s anti-corruption campaign is seeking to strengthen legal mechanisms.
China is strengthening mechanisms to apprehend corrupt officials and other criminals who have fled abroad.
One initiative, dubbed “Operation Fox Hunt 2014,” began in July 2014 as part of the anti-corruption campaign. It has successfully arrested more than 300 suspects from dozens of countries.
But it was only during November when APEC meetings were held in Beijing that a regional law enforcement cooperation network was established.
It will enable China to leverage on multiple countries to curb transnational bribery, money-laundry, repatriate suspects, and return illicit assets via various channels.
“We will further speed up these negotiations with other countries... This year alone, we made an unprecedented milestone in completing 10 extradition or criminal judicial assistance negotiations with other countries,” says Xu Hong, director-general of Treaty and Law Department of China’s Foreign Ministry.
So far, China has signed 39 extradition treaties and 29 are in effect, the parties include Western countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
While progress has advanced on combating transnational corruption, and some fugitives have already been brought back, there is still no extradition treaty in place with the most popular destinations for Chinese fugitives, - Canada and the United States.
Only “a small number” of officials have been repatriated from these two countries.
“Signing an extradition treaty stands for the construction of a green channel to arrest suspects between the nations. It would build a seamless network between the Chinese anti-corruption process and international efforts to combat corruption, and bring in a win-win result to deter corruption,” says Gao Bo, deputy secretary general of Clean Government Research Center, CASS.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, at least 150 Chinese fugitives, many of them corrupt officials, are hiding in the US. From 2003 to 2013, just two suspects wanted on criminal charges were repatriated.