11 February 2015
This  an update of our post China: Brings back corrupt officials who fled the country to face trial
China sought help of foreign governments in tracing the corrupt officials who fled China with their ill-gotten gains. China began to work with United States and Canada from the middle of 2013. Most of the fugitives ended in these two countries. China estimated that 150 fugitives were living in America and $1.08 trillion could be recovered.
The proceeds that have been seized and returned to China so far are meagre. This is not because US government does not want to help but US laws require that the assets must be traceable to an illegal activity before it can be seized. This is even more difficult because of lack of transparency in China. Besides, China did not provide the background history of the cases or any proof that the money was gotten illegally. It is believed that the US in not even able to ascertain whether those mentioned in the list are really Chinese nationals.
China still has no extradition treaty with the US. Many westerns countries are reluctant to enter into extradition treaty with China because corruption in China can be given capital punishment. This is not acceptable in the Western culture.
China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry is also trying to use the local courts in the US to sue economic fugitives who had fled China and try them under US civil law. China launched a ‘fox hunt’ program in July 2014 to track down the fugitives who have fled the country. China reported that 680 fugitives from 69 countries have returned to China. It is not known to what extent this is true.
Another concern of the Western governments is that only political opponents of President Xi Jinping have been tried and sentenced for corruption. They suspect this is a witch hunt of political opponents.
In recent times China has commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment. This was probably to garner more support from the Western governments. But President Xi has yet to establish his sincerity in eradicating corruption and not political witch hunting.