BEIJING (Reuters) - China has been getting good international cooperation in its campaign to return suspected corrupt officials who have fled abroad, including tip-offs from overseas and help from the media, the Communist Party’s graft watchdog said on Thursday.
The government earlier this year unveiled an initiative called “Sky Net” to better coordinate its fight to return corrupt officials and published a list of 100 suspected corrupt people believed to be abroad and subject to an Interpol “red notice”.
“Since the release of the 100 person ‘red notice’ list, our country has had positive cooperation with many other countries’ legal authorities, and signs have appeared of some suspects abroad who have been hidden for a long time and thought they’d gotten away with it,” the watchdog said.
“Media at home and abroad have dug deep, the people have proactively paid attention, people here and overseas have enthusiastically offered tips,” the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection added.
As of the end of May, 214 suspects have been returned to the country, according to the government.
President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping campaign against graft since assuming power in late 2012, but has been hampered to an extent by difficulty in getting corrupt officials and assets back from overseas.
China does not have extradition treaties with the United States or Canada - the two most popular destinations for suspected economic criminals.
Western countries have balked at signing extradition deals with China, partly out of concern about the integrity of its judicial system and treatment of prisoners. Rights groups say Chinese authorities use torture and that the death penalty is common in corruption cases.
A businessman on the most-wanted list argued in a Canadian court this week that he deserved refugee protection, with his lawyer saying some of the evidence against his client had been obtained by torture.
The graft watchdog said that no country wished to be viewed as a “safe haven” for the corrupt.
“The ‘red notice’ has announced to the 100 people on it that they have become enemies to the world, not only offering them shock and awe but also sounding a serious warning to those corrupt elements who still harbor illusions.”
Reporting by Ben Blanchard