Joint de­ci­sion

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YAN zhangyan1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China and Canada agree to start talks on a bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaty that would en­able the re­turn of cor­rupt Chi­nese of­fi­cials.

China and Canada agreed on Mon­day to start dis­cus­sions on a bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaty that would fa­cil­i­tate the re­turn of cor­rupt fugi­tive Chi­nese of­fi­cials who re­main at large in Canada.

The agree­ment was reached at the China-Canada High-Level Na­tional Se­cu­rity and Rule of Law Dia­logue in Bei­jing, where dis­cus­sions were held on ways to im­prove co­op­er­a­tion on is­sues such as law en­force­ment, com­bat­ing transna­tional or­ga­nized crime, ju­di­cial co­op­er­a­tion and ex­changes on the rule of law.

In depth talks of an ex­tra­di­tion treaty and the sign­ing of an agree­ment on shar­ing the re­cov­ered stolen as­sets will oc­cur in the com­ing months, while ne­go­ti­a­tions are fi­nal­ized on a year­long mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on a pilot project in which Chi­nese ex­perts will be in­vited to help iden­tify Chi­nese im­mi­grants who use fraud­u­lent means to en­ter Canada.

“The start of such a dis­cus­sion is a pos­i­tive sign pre­par­ing the way for for­mal ne­go­ti­a­tions on the bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaty,” said Zhang Xiaom­ing, deputy di­rec­tor­gen­eral of the Ju­di­cial As­sis­tance and For­eign Af­fairs Depart­ment at the Min­istry of Jus­tice.

Huang Feng, a law­pro­fes­sor at Bei­jing Nor­mal Uni­ver­sity said, “It marks great progress to­ward for­mally sign­ing in the near fu­ture a bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaty be­tween the two coun­tries.”

“The two coun­tries do not have ma­jor po­lit­i­cal or le­gal ob­sta­cles and have es­tab­lished good co­op­er­a­tive foun­da­tion, which will help them to com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively and ex­change views on sign­ing an ex­tra­di­tion treaty,” he said.

In re­cent years, the United States, Canada, Aus­tralia and Sin­ga­pore have be­come pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for cor­rupt fugi­tive Chi­nese of­fi­cials. They lack bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaties and have le­gal dif­fer­ences with China, com­pli­cat­ing their re­turn, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity.

Many such fugi­tives have trans­ferred bil­lions of il­le­gally ac­quired yuan to for­eign ac­counts via money laun­der­ing and un­der­ground banks, the min­istry said.

Since April, when In­ter­pol is­sued alerts for the cap­ture of 100 ma­jor fugi­tive Chi­nese of­fi­cials and con­fis­cate their il­le­gal as­sets, seven cor­rupt of­fi­cials have been re­turned from Canada for trial.

Huang said that Chi­nese ju­di­cial of­fi­cials have found their best law en­force­ment co­op­er­a­tion with their coun­ter­parts in Canada. Amongthe fugi­tives Canada helped repa­tri­ate for trial was Gao Shan, for­mer head of a sub-branch of Bank of China in Harbin, Hei­longjiang province.

Gao was sus­pected of em­bez­zling more than 800 mil­lion yuan ($129 mil­lion) in 2004 and pleaded guilty to ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties in 2012, eight years af­ter flee­ing to Canada.

Zhang, of the Jus­tice Min­istry, said that although a good be­gin­ning has been made, many le­gal pro­ce­dures need to be worked out for a bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaty.

Huang said, the prac­ti­cal chal­lenge fac­ing Chi­nese ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties is that many fugi­tive Chi­nese sus­pects have ob­tained per­ma­nent res­i­dence in Canada, so the first step is “to im­prove ju­di­cial co­op­er­a­tion with Canada re­gard­ing the fugi­tive sus­pects and re­voke their Cana­dian green cards, to be able to repa­tri­ate them for trial.”

"It marks great progress to­ward for­mally sign­ing in the near fu­ture a bi­lat­eral ex­tra­di­tion treaty be­tween the two coun­tries.” Huang Feng, a law pro­fes­sor at Bei­jing Nor­mal Uni­ver­sity

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