China’s top anti-graft watchdog has called for fugitive officials suspected of corruption to be tried in absentia. Setting up trials in absentia – criminal proceedings in court in which the suspect is not physically present – would help China to better cooperate with other countries in hunting suspects, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on its website on Monday. China is actively seeking international cooperation in hunting down fugitive officials who have fled the country since the launch of President Xi Jinping’s nationwide graft crackdown in 2012. But Western countries have been reluctant to help in repatriating suspects, citing fears over China’s legal system and mistreatment of criminal suspects. Beijing has said it will push for anti-corruption efforts to be high on the agenda when it hosts this year’s G20 summit in September. China to host anti-corruption conference for OECD The mainland’s criminal law does not cover trials in absentia. But in the past few years, academics and media commentators have called for such procedures to boost anti-corruption efforts. China was often asked to submit evidence or statements from a court ruling when it asked other countries to help in repatriating fugitives, Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Clean Government Centre at Peking University, said. China would be able to establish the suspect’s status as a criminal Zhuang Deshui, academic “With trials in absentia, China would be able to establish the suspect’s status as a criminal,” he said. Setting up the trials, commonly used in other countries, would help China to better cooperate with other countries when seeking extraditions, he said. Li Danyang, a research fellow at the Beijing-based Beihang University, said the plan would institutionalise anti-graft efforts, and boost China’s credibility when asking other countries to cooperate.