China soft­ens tac­tics in global hunt for cor­rup­tion fugi­tives

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

LON­DON: China has changed tac­tics in its global man-hunt for fugi­tives wanted at home for cor­rup­tion, af­ter com­plaints from coun­tries that ob­jected to Bei­jing’s prac­tice of send­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors to track them down, a top Chi­nese anti-cor­rup­tion of­fi­cial said.

Liu Jian­chao, in charge of repa­tri­at­ing Chi­nese cor­rup­tion sus­pects who flee abroad, said in an in­ter­view Bei­jing had deep­ened co­op­er­a­tion with for­eign gov­ern­ments and no longer sent of­fi­cials abroad with­out clear­ance from the host coun­try to try to con­vince the sus­pects to re­turn home.

China has brought home more than 600 of­fi­cials this year in a cam­paign dubbed “Op­er­a­tion Fox Hunt”, pur­su­ing them abroad as part of a wider crack­down on deep-rooted graft which Liu called “an ar­du­ous task”. Seven­teen of the top 100 sus­pects on which China’s In­ter­pol of­fice is­sued a red no­tice in April have been repa­tri­ated, he said.

“The Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties at dif­fer­ent lev­els ... didn’t re­ally mean to make any harm to the coun­try that they were vis­it­ing, but then we got these com­plaints, we re­alised there’s room for im­prove­ment in do­ing this job,” Liu told Reuters on Mon­day on a visit to Bri­tain to seek bet­ter le­gal co­op­er­a­tion.

“So now we are talk­ing to the au­thor­i­ties of the rel­e­vant coun­tries to seek their as­sis­tance and their un­der­stand­ing and we tell them in ex­plicit terms that China will ... com­ply with the le­gal pro­ce­dures, with the rules of your coun­try,” he said, in an un­usu­ally frank ad­mis­sion of the chal­lenges Bei­jing has faced in try­ing to repa­tri­ate eco­nomic fugi­tives.

“DAUNT­ING”TASK

West­ern diplo­mats in Bei­jing say their gov­ern­ments have been in­fu­ri­ated by China send­ing agents to their coun­tries to try to con­vince sus­pects to re­turn, and that if China wants their help it must use above-board, le­gal meth­ods and lo­cal courts.

The United States in par­tic­u­lar has warned China about Chi­nese agents it says were op­er­at­ing on US soil to pres­sure fugi­tives to re­turn. West­ern na­tions have balked at sign­ing ex­tra­di­tion deals with China, partly out of con­cern about its ju­di­cial sys­tem. Rights groups say Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties use tor­ture and that the death penalty is com­mon in cor­rup­tion cases.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has driven the cor­rup­tion crack­down since tak­ing over the lead­er­ship of the Com­mu­nist Party in late 2012. Since then dozens of se­nior of­fi­cials have been in­ves­ti­gated or jailed.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has given pe­ri­odic up­dates of its progress in bring­ing graft sus­pects back to China, in some cases an­nounc­ing batches of sev­eral dozen of­fi­cials be­ing re­turned.

How­ever, the fight has been ham­pered by China’s dif­fi­culty in get­ting sus­pected cor­rupt of­fi­cials and as­sets from over­seas. “The task re­mains daunt­ing,” said Liu, who is Vice Min­is­ter for the National Bureau of Cor­rup­tion Pre­ven­tion. He also heads the Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion within the party’s Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion.

Among those still over­seas is Yang Xi­uzhu, a for­mer se­nior con­struc­tion of­fi­cial in east­ern Zhe­jiang prov­ince charged with cor­rup­tion, who has been taken into cus­tody by im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties in the United States but has ap­plied for asy­lum.

Her brother, re­gional of­fi­cial Yang Jin­jun, was repa­tri­ated to China in Septem­ber, the first time Bei­jing suc­ceeded in bring­ing back a sus­pect from the United States. — Reuters

Afghan men gather around the coffins with the head­less bod­ies of a group of Shi­ite Hazaras in Ghazni prov­ince yes­ter­day. — AFP

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