China grap­ples with cor­rup­tion

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

At a time when Chi­nese cap­i­tal and Chi­nese tourists are flood­ing into ev­ery cor­ner of the world, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is seek­ing the re­turn of hun­dreds, pos­si­bly thou­sands, of for­mer of­fi­cials who have fled over­seas, tak­ing with them vast sums of il­licit money to their newly adopted homes.

A list of 100 wanted crim­i­nals is­sued by In­ter­pol in April showed that the ma­jor­ity were be­lieved to be in North Amer­ica, with 40 in the United States and 26 in Canada. Some of them have been on the run since the 1990s.

Even Hong Kong, which while a part of China has a sep­a­rate le­gal sys­tem, was sus­pected to shel­ter five. But since main­land in­flu­ence is so per­va­sive in the for­mer Bri­tish colony, it is likely that those who ini­tially sought a haven in Hong Kong would move fur­ther afield given the chance.

China is now press­ing Western gov­ern­ments to sign ex­tra­di­tion treaties. But even in the ab­sence of such treaties, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is call­ing for co­op­er­a­tion.

The lack of ex­tra­di­tion treaties doesn’t mean that fugi­tives and their ill-got­ten gains are nec­es­sar­ily safe. In fact, the of­fi­cial English- lan­guage China Daily news­pa­per re­cently quoted the Cana­dian am­bas­sador to China, Guy Saint-Jac­ques, as say­ing in an in­ter­view that Canada and China would sign an agree­ment in the next few months to share the as­sets that Chi­nese fugi­tives have moved il­le­gally into Canada.

“Canada has had very close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment to ad­dress such is­sues,” the am­bas­sador was quoted as say­ing. “We have no de­sire to har­bor fugi­tives, and we don’t want to be known as wel­com­ing fugi­tives.”

Cheng Muyang

One of China’s most- wanted is a man known in Canada as Michael Ching Mo Ye­ung, a prom­i­nent Van­cou­ver prop­erty devel­oper, a per­ma­nent res­i­dent though not a Cana­dian citizen. He is known in China as Cheng Muyang.

Mr. Ching is also a Hong Kong per­ma­nent res­i­dent. He was chair­man of the Hong Kong in­cor­po­rated com­pany Gard D’Aire In­ter­na­tional Lim­ited, which was set up in 2003 and was dis­solved five years later.

Western gov­ern­ments, armed with in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by Bei­jing, are mov­ing to de­port Chi­nese who had en­tered their coun­tries il­le­gally.

This ap­pears to be what the United States plans for Yang Xi­uzhu, for­mer deputy mayor of Wen­zhou, in Zhe­jiang province, who tops the 100 most-wanted list. She is ac­cused of hav­ing taken US$41 mil­lion in bribes and the Amer­i­cans ap­par­ently planned to de­port her for hav­ing al­legedly en­tered the coun­try by us­ing a fake Dutch pass­port.

How­ever, last week the Chi­nese news agency, Xin­hua, re­ported that she has ap­plied for asy­lum. Even if the ap­pli­ca­tion is ul­ti­mately re­jected, it will likely de­lay de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings.

Other wanted sus­pects, too, may adopt sim­i­lar strate­gies. More­over, China is known for tor­tur­ing sus­pects to ob­tain con­fes­sions so for­eign gov­ern­ments, be­fore re­turn­ing fugi­tives to China, may seek un­der­tak­ings from Bei­jing to guar­an­tee fair tri­als and to for­sake the death penalty.

Michael Ching is un­der­stood to have sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion for refugee sta­tus in Canada. He has ac­cused the Chi­nese author­i­ties of hav­ing ob­tained ev­i­dence against him by tor­tur­ing two of his al­leged busi­ness as­so­ci­ates.

The Van­cou­ver Courier, in a re­port by Bob Mackin April 29, dis­closed that Mr. Ching had filed a state­ment of claim against the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment in 2012 for CA$1.75 mil­lion (US$1.42 mil­lion) in dam­ages in which he al­leged that the Chi­nese author­i­ties had been in touch with the Cana­dian Em­bassy be­tween 2001 and 2004 and that China’s Min­istry of Public Se­cu­rity had asked the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment not to grant him cit­i­zen­ship. Mr. Ching’s ap­pli­ca­tions for Cana­dian cit­i­zen­ship in 2001 and 2004 were de­nied.

Tip of the Ice­berg

While the

list

of 100 un­der- lines China’s de­sire to see the repa­tri­a­tion of cor­rupt of­fi­cials for trial, it is only the tip of the ice­berg as hun­dreds of other Chi­nese fugi­tives are al­ready be­ing sought by In­ter­pol. Last year, China claims to have suc­cess­fully ob­tained the repa­tri­a­tion of 680 fugi­tives.

The amount of money leav­ing China il­lic­itly is stag­ger­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the Washington-based non­profit re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion Global Fi­nan­cial In­tegrity, be­tween 2002 and 2011, China saw an out­flow of US$1.08 tril­lion in il­licit funds. Rus­sia, with an out­flow of US$88 bil­lion, was in sec­ond place.

China’s fail­ure to deal with sys­temic cor­rup­tion has be­come a prob­lem for the rest of the world, just like its prob­lems with food safety, with cen­sor­ship, with dis­ease and with the en­vi­ron­ment. China now seeks the help of other coun­tries to clean up the huge mess that it has cre­ated through the ex­port of cor­rupt of­fi­cials who had abused their power in a sys­tem with­out checks and bal­ances or the rule of law. Frank.ching@gmail.com Twit­ter: @FrankChing1

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