U.S. Seeks to Deal With More Than 100 Fugitives Sought by China

The U.S. is seeking ways to deal with more than 100 fugitives China wants repatriated even though the countries have no extradition agreement, a U.S. official said today.

The suspects, many wanted for corruption as part of China’s global Fox Hunt campaign to bring back corrupt officials, could be expelled using immigration laws, face trial in the U.S. or have assets seized, said the official, who asked not to be identified in line with policy.

China said last month that the U.S. is one of the main safe heavens used by fugitives suspected of corruption and economic crimes, calling on the U.S. to return more of them and accusing U.S. judges of bias against China’s legal system. The U.S. official said it needed more details on cases to proceed.

Extradition is one way prevent a country being a safe haven, “but not the only way,” the U.S. official said.

China has so far captured more than 400 economic fugitives from 60 countries and regions in “Operation Fox Hunt 2014,” that began in July as part of President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign, according to data from the Ministry of Public Security. Only a small number of officials who absconded to the U.S. have been successfully repatriated, China said last month.

Law-enforcement officials held annual talks in Beijing this week on greater cooperation to fight corruption, cybercrime, and narcotics, as well as protecting intellectual property rights.

The countries could get around the lack of an extradition treaty by prosecuting fugitives on their own soil, provided they are given the evidence and cooperation necessary to support the action, the U.S. official said.

Even if a prosecution fails, the U.S. could examine if there is enough evidence to seize the assets of the fugitives, he says. Another alternative could be for countries to expel suspects using immigration laws.

Xu Hong, director general of the department of treaty and law at China’s foreign ministry, said last month that the lack of an extradition treaty and judges with bias against China’s legal system are the main barriers to repatriations.

— With assistance by Keith Zhai

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