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Spotlight on safe havens for corrupt officials

Updated: 2014-11-21 07:43
By Chen Weihua (China Daily)

The United States has been waging wars all over the world trying to deny safe haven to extreme terrorists. But to many Chinese, the US itself has for too long been a safe haven for a large group of bad guys - corrupt Chinese officials on the run.

These corrupt officials, who have embezzled huge sums of public money, have caused harm to the Chinese people like the groups of terrorists, and various surveys show that corruption remains one of the top concerns among the Chinese public.

A report from the central bank, the People's Bank of China, back in 2011 revealed that between 16,000 and 18,000 corrupt Chinese officials and top executives from State-owned enterprises have sought safe haven abroad, taking with them more than 800 billion yuan ($130 billion) in illicitly obtained money.

The US, Canada and Australia were the three top destinations for these crooked officials and SOE executives.

While high standards of living and good schools for their children are a likely reason, many corrupt officials chose these countries largely because they have no extradition treaty with China. Only a few corrupt Chinese officials have so far been deported by these countries, often on a case-by-case basis because of the lack of an extradition treaty. China has inked bilateral extradition treaties with 38 countries, but they are mostly developing nations.

As the current top leadership demonstrates strong resolve to fight corruption, those who have sought or are seeking a safe haven overseas have come under keen scrutiny back in China. On Monday, the Ministry of Public Security announced that 288 Chinese economic fugitives on the run overseas have been snared since "Fox Hunt 2014" was launched in July to hunt down criminals hiding abroad.

The Chinese government has actively sought the cooperation of foreign governments, including the US, in tracking down these fugitives from justice. Chinese officials have also urged the US to negotiate on a bilateral extradition treaty.

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