It’s necessary to set up a professional law enforcement team that better understands the laws of the destinations and is proficient at speaking English and applying the laws.”
China has signed extradition treaties with 39 countries and criminal judicial assistance treaties with 52 countries. Moreover, it has signed 124 agreements or memorandums with 91 countries, regions and international organizations. The international community has responded to China’s efforts through cooperation and addressing its concerns.
It has been reported that during US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s visit to China in early April, an agreement was reached with China on simplifying procedures for repatriating corrupt Chinese officials hiding in the US.
Australian police said in October they would help Beijing find and seize the assets of corrupt Chinese officials, media reports said. Reuters reported that though a 2007 Franco-Chinese extradition treaty has still not been ratified by French lawmakers, the possibility of returning suspects to China was “not at all excluded” if China meets French demands and agrees not to impose the death penalty.
During the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing in November, APEC members, including the US, Canada and Australia, decided to set up a regional law enforcement cooperation network known as Act-Net to snare corrupt officials.
Xu Yaotong, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said China’s actions abroad face hurdles, including different legal systems, difficulty of evidence collection and high enforcement cost. In July, when a Chinese suspected of illegal fundraising showed up in a casino in Uganda, Chinese law enforcement agents couldn’t arrest him without permission of local police, but it was Saturday and local police were not working.
Meng Jin, one of the Chinese police, later told media that he and his colleague stayed with the suspect but they had to wait until the following Monday to arrest him.
“We felt like we were sitting on a roller coaster,” he recalled. Chinese media reported that Chinese police rented a private jet to bring a suspected criminal back from Fiji in 2003.
“It’s necessary to set up a professional law enforcement team that better understands the laws of the destinations and is proficient at speaking English and applying the laws,” said Liu Dong, deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security's economic crimes investigation bureau.
However, the major concern remains that China has not yet signed an extradition treaty with the primary destinations for suspects, including the US and Canada, which are the top two destinations for Chinese fugitives.
The US is the No 1 destination for Chinese fugitives, according to the CCDI, with 40 of the 100 most wanted. Canada is second with 26 Chinese fugitives, and then New Zealand with 11. In the past decade, only two Chinese fugitives have been brought back from the US to stand trial, according to the Ministry of Public Security of China. It took 12 years for China to negotiate with Canada to repatriate Lai Changxing, the kingpin of a large-scale smuggling ring in Southeast China’s Fujian province.
China’s use of death the penalty for economic criminals, though largely reduced after the Supreme Court took back from provincial courts the right to approve death penalty cases, is still the biggest concern in extradition treaties.
The argument over abolishing or maintaining the death penalty for financial crimes has been continuing in Chinese society.
Legal experts say China would eventually abolish the death penalty for economic crimes; however, many consider that unrealistic for Chinese society as long as abuse of power is connected with graft that harms social justice and leads to the public’s hatred of corrupt officials.
An online survey in November in China showed overwhelming support for the death penalty in corruption cases. It held that 73.2 percent of 2,105 respondents think that the death sentence should continue to be applied in graft cases.
Wang Yukai, a professor of law at the Chinese Academy of Governance, pointed out that Chinese people’s attitudes toward the death penalty for corrupt officials are linked to China’s anticorruption campaign. “Corruption leads to serious social tensions in Chinese society. It is not only an economic issue but also a political issue in China,” he said.
China is also taking steps to prevent corruption suspects from escaping abroad. Huang Shuxian, vice-secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said CCDI will establish a system of statistics and reports about corrupt officials who have fled abroad
Zhang Huide, a professor at People’s Public Security University of China, said it is necessary to enhance the management of passports of public servants and to promote the use of biological information recognition technology to prevent travel with fake passports and other bogus documents.