China is considering suing people suspected of committing economic crimes who have fled abroad with billions of dollars, Reuters reported Wednesday.
President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive has been hampered in part by the difficulty of getting the fugitives sent back.
Xu Hong, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Treaty and Law, said China tried to persuade the United States to sign an extradition treaty, but Washington said it was “not ready”.
“So in this case, we can only think of other, alternative methods,” Xu told a news conference. “One way is to repatriate the relevant suspects through the mechanism of illegal immigration; the other way is to prosecute them in the United States, so the suspects can be tried under US law.”
The Washington-based Global Financial Integrity Group, which analyzes illicit financial flows, estimates that US$1.08 trillion left China illegally from 2002 to 2011.
China said this month that it had captured 288 fugitives suspected of committing economic crimes in a campaign called “Operation Fox Hunt”.
Xu said some judges in western countries, such as the United States and Canada, were prejudiced about China’s legal system and were reluctant to return those suspected of corruption.
Human rights groups say torture is often used by Chinese legal authorities, and capital punishment is widely used in corruption cases.
China has extradition treaties with 39 countries but not the United States or Canada – two of the most popular destinations for suspected economic fugitives, Xu said.
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