• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 11:29pm
Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign

150 Chinese graft suspects and officials ‘remain at large in America’, state media says

But lack of an extradition treaty with US makes bringing them home to face charges difficult

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 2:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 6:38pm

More than 150 economic fugitives, many of whom are corrupt officials or suspected of graft in China, are at large in the United States, Chinese state media said, citing a senior official from the public security ministry.

The United States “has become the top destination for Chinese fugitives fleeing the law”, the China Daily newspaper said, citing Liao Jinrong, director general of the ministry’s International Cooperation Bureau.

President Xi Jinping has made fighting pervasive graft a central theme and has warned, like others before him, that corruption threatens the Communist Party’s survival.

Beijing has long grappled with the issue of so-called “naked officials” – government workers whose husbands, wives or children are all overseas – who use foreign family connections to illegally shift assets out of China or to avoid investigation.

Some estimates put the number of Chinese officials and family members moving assets offshore at more than 1 million in the past five years.

But bringing these fugitives back to China is not easy. There is no extradition treaty between China and the United States, and foreign governments have expressed reluctance to hand over Chinese suspects as they could face the death penalty in China.

“We face practical difficulties in getting fugitives who fled to the United States back to face trial due to the lack of an extradition treaty and the complex and lengthy procedures,” the China Daily cited Liao as saying.

China’s Public Security Ministry is trying to set up an annual high-level meeting with US judicial authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security, China Daily said, citing Wang Gang, a senior official at the International Cooperation Bureau.

Last month, China launched what it called a “fox hunt” for corrupt officials, saying it will track down fugitives around the world and punish them.

“This is a new message that the current administration is sending to the public,” said Zhu Jiangnan, an assistant politics professor at the University of Hong Kong, who specialises in corruption in China. “In past years, the government didn’t say very explicitly they will get corrupt officials back to China.”

A case highlighting the problems of extradition is Lai Changxing, once China’s most-wanted fugitive, who fled to Canada with his family in 1999 and claimed refugee status saying allegations that he ran a multibillion-dollar smuggling operation in the southeastern city of Xiamen were politically motivated.

His case triggered tensions between Beijing and Ottawa. Canada eventually deported Lai in 2011, and he was jailed for life the following year.

Only two people have been brought home from the United States to China to stand trial in the past decade, the China Daily said, citing ministry figures.

It is difficult for China to apprehend fugitives because US judicial authorities “misunderstand the Chinese judicial system and procedures”, the newspaper said, citing experts.

“They always think Chinese judicial organs violate suspects’ human rights,” it quoted Wang as saying.

Globally, 320 suspects in corruption cases were “seized and brought back to China” in the first half of this year, state news agency Xinhua said in July.

The public security ministry said some 18 suspects linked to financial crimes had been captured or surrendered since July 22, when the overseas manhunt kicked off.

In March, China’s top prosecutor, Cao Jianming, said more than 10 billion yuan (HK$12.6 billion) in “dirty money” and property was recovered and 762 corruption suspects were captured at home or abroad last year.

Since the mid-1990s, an estimated 16,000 to 18,000 party officials, businessmen and other individuals have “disappeared” from China, according to a People’s Bank of China report prepared in 2008 – taking with them an estimated 800 billion yuan.


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This article is now closed to comments

For the same reason, Hong Kong has no extradition treaty with China. The absence of an independent and impartial judiciary, denial of basic rights, non-existent safeguards to guarantee a fair trial and death for economic crimes. Don't forget that if such a treaty existed, China could demand the extradition of individuals for political reasons based on trumped up charges. It is unlikely that China will have an extradition treaty with Western countries for a very, very long time.
Mr. Xi - give your friend Obama a call and let's go hunt down those suckers!
Btw, 150 sounds a bit low... Is that based on a threshold of, say, USD1 billion of money stolen?
Well, President Obama is too busy with the other more important issues right now. Besides, there is little intervention from the US in dealing with those "dirty money" funneling from China. Even now, there are Chinese real estate buyers who are willing to pay "above" the seller's asking price with cash in NY. And many aren't even prime properties...
Perhaps in exchange for the Chinese government and PLA agreeing to stop stealing all the IP they can get their dirty little electronic mitts on. Never mind. The Chinese economy would collapse if they had to do their own R&D in any manner other than theft.
Extradition treaty between the US and China is unlikely, but there must be a collaborative process to return corrupt officials, their families and ill got loots to face trials in China. Lets not confuse corrupt officials with political activists fighting for universal justice and democratic due process in China. Fugitives should be returned to China ASAP!
How about offering half of the embezzled money to the U.S. government in exchange for extradition.


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