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Leave no space for escaped corrupt officials

2014-11-26 09:10 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

With growing determination by China to catch criminals who have escaped abroad, other countries should also make coordinated efforts to bring these people to justice.

Corruption is a crime in all countries and regions of the world, making corrupt officials a common target everywhere. They may bring money to destinations, but they go against universal values and will undermine the reputation of the countries they are hiding in.

China launched its Fox Hunt 2014 operation in July, targeting corrupt officials and suspects in economic crimes that have fled the country. The goal is to "block the last route of retreat" for corrupt officials after the country's crackdown narrows the space for abuse of power.

So far, 288 suspects have been seized, including 21 at large for more than a decade, and 84 from developed countries such as the U.S., Canada, Japan and Belgium.

Chinese authorities recently announced an ultimatum -- Dec. 1 -- for escaped economic crimes suspects, who are mostly corrupt officials, to give themselves up in exchange for lenient sentences.

The country will continue to hunt for them with harsher punishment in the future, as it is an indispensable part of the country's overall anti-corruption plan that has already surprised the world. If corrupt officials can seek safe haven abroad, the anti-corruption war will not win.

In the meantime, the operation needs more international cooperation to address obstacles arising from different national situations in China and other countries.

Chinese corrupt officials and other economic crime suspects often choose the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other countries with friendly immigrant policies as their escape destinations.

At present, some difficulties or obstacles have hindered cross-border anti-corruption cooperation. Political, social and legal systems vary between China and other countries, which may result in different views in specific cases.

The litigation system and procedures are also different. In addition, many escape destinations have no extradition treaties with China.

Law enforcers and legislators from China and other countries, with a prerequisite of abiding laws from both countries, should make joint efforts to address the procedural issues and facilitate the process.

It is a positive sign that the legal system and rule of law have been greatly improved in China, with many countries strengthening cooperation and coordination with China on law enforcement.

In less than one month, Chinese President Xi Jinping has referred to hunting for economic crimes suspects overseas and recovering embezzled money on various occasions.

When visiting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji or attending the G20 Summit in Brisbane earlier last week, Xi talked about the issue, hoping to strengthen law enforcement cooperation with other countries.

China has also helped forge a cross-border law enforcement network to strengthen transnational anti-corruption cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, which was adopted by APEC leaders earlier this month.

The progress of cross-border anti-corruption cooperation is irreversible. Places that were once safe havens in the minds of corrupt officials' minds will soon turn to dead ends.

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