China calls for expanded anti-corruption cooperation with Canada

BEIJING (Reuters) - China wants to expand its anti-corruption cooperation with Canada, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Canadian counterpart, a country which Beijing says has been a popular destination for dirty Chinese officials fleeing abroad.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures as he speaks with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (not pictured) during their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China, 09 August 2017. REUTERS/Wu Hong/Pool

Canada and China said last year they would talk about a possible extradition treaty, which China has long wanted so it can press for the return of people it says are corrupt officials who fled to Canada.

Many Western countries are reluctant to sign extradition deals with China, partly out of concern about the integrity of its judicial system and treatment of prisoners.

Meeting in Beijing, Wang told Chrystia Freeland that both countries should push for expanded, mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas, China’s foreign ministry said late on Wednesday.

Both “must take the joint fight against cross-border crime as an aim, and expand anti-corruption and legal enforcement cooperation”, the ministry paraphrased Wang as saying.

It did not elaborate.

Canada refuses to send people to countries without assurances they will not be executed.

In 2011, Canada deported a man China had wanted in connection with a massive smuggling and bribery case, Lai Changxing, after a legal battle in which a Canadian court dismissed concerns he could be tortured or executed if sent home.

A Chinese court jailed Lai for life the following year.

A few graft suspects have also come back to China from Canada on their own accord, according to the Chinese government.

China has been trying to get increased international cooperation to hunt down corrupt officials since President Xi Jinping began his war against graft almost five years ago.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry