Corruption in China

China vows to win global support for graft-fugitive hunt and pressure nations that hold out

Beijing will use forums like the G20 summit to build backing for the campaign, President Xi Jinping tells anti-corruption agency

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 6:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 7:03pm

China will use the upcoming G20 summit and other global forums to push for greater co-operation in the campaign to hunt down graft suspects who have fled abroad, according to state media.

Beijing would also exert pressure on Western nations like the United States to win their backing in the fight, President Xi Jinping has told the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

“In the past, the United States and other Western nations often used the corruption issue to attack us at multilateral occasions such as the United Nations, G20 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation,” he said according to a transcript of his speech released by People’s Daily on Tuesday.

The agency meeting was held in January but his remarks were only made public now.

The anti-graft campaign had allowed China to occupy “the international moral high ground” and improved its reputation on the world stage, he said.

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China would make better use of the “strategic initiative” at the G20 summit and other global platforms to push for broad cooperation in the hunt.

We will ratchet up pressure on the US and other Western nations
Xi Jinping

“We will put forward a series of proposals on global anti-corruption efforts and establish a new international order on fighting corruption. In particular, we will ratchet up pressure on the US and other Western nations … which used to think those criminal suspects as their cards [against China],” he said, adding that the suspects had now become “hot potatoes” for the host.

The publication of his remarks came after China suspended an international anti-corruption task force earlier this year after taking over the G20 presidency, according to media reports. The Foreign Ministry has not confirmed the move.

Analysts remained sceptical over how much multinational help Xi would receive. Western countries have so far been largely reluctant to get involved, citing China’s mistreatment of criminal suspects and lack of evidence proving guilt.

Beijing said it was in talks with Washington earlier this year over repatriation of Ling Wancheng, who went to the United States after his brother Ling Jihua, a former top aide to ex-president Hu Jintao, became ensnarled in Xi’s anti-graft campaign, remain.

Ling Jihua was expelled from the Communist Party last year and is expected to be tried for corruption and illegally obtaining state secrets in the coming months.

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Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based analyst, said the leadership had failed to properly address mounting concerns over the so-called Panama Papers. The leaked documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm revealed relatives of several current and retired party leaders had used offshore shell companies to hold assets.

Beijing finds itself in the eye of the storm over the Panama Papers
Zhang Lifan, Beijing-based analyst

“Beijing finds itself in the eye of the storm over the Panama Papers and everyone is waiting to see how the leadership handles the credibility crisis,” he said. “I really don’t know how Chinese leaders can discuss with their foreign counterparts about international anti-graft cooperation at this moment,” Zhang said.

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Despite Xi’s confidence in winning global co-operation, political analysts noted that in his speech Xi had insisted the party would mainly rely on its inner discipline rather than media and public supervision to fight graft.

Hu Xingdou, another Beijing-based political analyst, said that while Xi’s campaign had won some recognition at the international level, the problem had to be tackled at its root.

“Without an independent legal system and press freedom, I don’t think the current fight against corruption can make much of a difference,” Hu said.