China's graft-busters release list of 100 wanted fugitives in Operation Sky Net
Targets of Beijing's Operation Sky Net include five in HK, but extraditions won't be easy
Beijing’s anti-graft watchdog on Wednesday released a detailed list of 100 fugitives it wants to extradite back to China as part of its “Sky Net” anti-graft operation.
The fugitives are subject to Interpol red notices, which appeal for the location and arrest of each wanted person, and ask member states to extradite them.
However, international law experts warned of complicated legal procedures due to a lack of extradition treaties between China and the nations where the fugitives are hiding.
The list published by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has far more detailed information than that released by Interpol.
It includes a photo of each fugitive, their gender, former positions of employment, mainland personal identification number, passport details, date of fleeing and the nations they are suspected of escaping to. It also describes their alleged crimes.
The CCDI said the names on the list were only a fraction of those targeted in its global hunt.
“Implementing Sky Net’s strategic operation, the Interpol National Central Bureau for China has issued red notices for a list of 100 civil servants and other alleged criminals wanted for corruption,” the CCDI said on its website.
One of the fugitives on the list is Cheng Muyang, a former manager at a Beijing-based advertising company and a Hong Kong company director with a permanent Hong Kong identity card. He fled to Canada in August 2000. Mainland website Thepaper.cn said that Cheng was the son of late Hebei provincial party secretary Cheng Weigao.
Forty of the fugitives fled to the United States, 26 to Canada and five to Hong Kong; the rest went to New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Singapore.
Nearly half of them were heads of government departments or corporations.
Others were policemen, accountants, corporate treasurers and bank staff. Many held more than one personal Chinese ID card and had multiple passports.
The list includes fugitives who fled from 1996 to 2014, with most having taken flight between 2011 and 2013 and from 2001 to 2002. Most are accused of bribery, corruption and embezzlement.
Most come from rich coastal provinces such as Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu .
President Xi Jinping launched a massive anti-corruption campaign after coming to power in 2013. Sky Net’s predecessor, “Operation Fox Hunt”, netted 680 officials last year.
Professor Michael Davis, an international law expert with the University of Hong Kong, said the release of the list was more a public relations message than an attempt to expedite extraditions.
He said even in cases where the fugitive was in a country that had an extradition treaty with China, bringing anybody back could be a long process due to other countries’ concerns over China’s use of the death penalty, and foreign lawyers being able to mount lengthy challenges.
Hong Kong lawmaker James To Kun-sun said the Hong Kong government had no legal basis to arrest anyone on the list.
Permanent residents could not be arrested due to the lack of an extradition agreement, and Hong Kong was “very unlikely” to intervene in the case of a non-permanent resident, he said.
Renmin University political analyst Zhang Ming said the scope of the details would be intimidating for those planning to escape.