The anti-corruption campaign that has been sweeping across China is extending beyond its borders. Two high-profile international meetings last month - the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing and the G20 summit in Brisbane - both unveiled plans to further their members' cooperation on this front. For years, corrupt Chinese officials have found it too easy to escape the law, and many have fled abroad with their loot. The People's Bank of China estimated in 2011 that, since the 1990s, some 16,000 to 18,000 corrupt officials and senior executives at state-owned enterprises have taken 800 billion yuan (HK$1 trillion) of their illicit gains out of the country. Among these was Gao Yan , a former Yunnan party secretary whose whereabouts are still unknown. Lax enforcement of the law undermines public confidence in the anti-corruption campaign and damages China's national image. Thus, the government has stepped up its cooperation with overseas authorities to track down these fugitives. The current leadership has been especially active. Since taking over, it has launched a second, "international" phase of the corruption fight. And at the third meeting of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, held in January, the government pledged to redouble efforts to make these fugitives answer for their crimes. Curbing corruption to foster a society's healthy development has long been the goal of most countries around the world. As early as 2004, in Chile, Apec leaders agreed to work together to fight corruption and encourage open government - a pledge repeated at the Russian summit in 2012. In 2005, the forum set up an anti-corruption and transparency experts' task force, which was upgraded in 2011 to a working group. Taking it further still, leaders agreed at last year's summit to set up the Apec Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies, which held its first meeting in Beijing last month. China must seize on such international resolve to move from attacking the symptoms of corruption to rooting out the cause - by building sound institutions for clean government, taking example from the best international practices. Taking this open attitude to push forward reform will have significant meaning for a country trying to modernise itself. Many people regard the Apec Beijing declaration on fighting graft as a new move mainly targeting fugitive officials. This reflects the common view of Chinese priorities. But, in fact, China has for a long time been cooperating in various global efforts to fight corruption: it was one of the early signatories of the UN Anti-Corruption Convention, and, by the end of July, has signed treaties for judicial cooperation on criminal matters with some 51 countries, and extradition treaties with 38 countries. This year alone, China has concluded 10 negotiations on judicial cooperation and/or extradition matters. Such focus is unprecedented. Judicial cooperation is crucial, especially with the US and Canada, a favoured destination of many corrupt Chinese officials. In June last year, China and Canada tentatively agreed on measures to share and return recovered assets, and in October this year, it agreed with the US to strengthen their cooperation in law enforcement that would facilitate the tracking and investigation of those suspected of corruption. This comes on top of an announcement in July of a "fox hunt" campaign targeting corrupt fugitives. More importantly, China must turn its attention to creating a basic institutional framework for tackling corruption. The Beijing declaration, for one, covers more than the search for fugitives. The document also stresses the building of a fair and open market, and explicitly welcomes civic participation. The emphasis on transparency is noteworthy. Public affairs must be conducted openly so as to deny officials an opportunity to seek rent in under-the-table deals. Thus, ensuring power is exercised in a most transparent way will prevent corruption from taking root in the first place. Prevention, as they say, is much better than cure. In this regard, China must study the international best practices. China has impressed many with its tough action against corruption over the past two years. However, some of the measures it has adopted - which can best be described as a corruption fight with Chinese characteristics - fail international legal standards and should be corrected. As the current chair of Apec, China can better facilitate the integration of the different legal frameworks, so members may learn from one another. In particular, China has admittedly struggled to navigate the complex network of shady financial dealings and money laundering. On this, the experience of the advanced countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development may help.