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APEC anti-corruption deal closes doors to economic fugitives abroad

Nov 12 , 2014

The eyes of the whole world have been focused on Beijing during the APEC forum. Among the achievements of this forum, one has drawn particular attention. In the just concluded APEC Ministerial Meeting, the Beijing Anti-corruption Proclamation has been adopted, and all sides have agreed to establish a law-enforcement network to boost cross-border anti-graft cooperation.

The Beijing proclamation shows that the APEC members will enhance anti-graft cooperation from a brand new perspective. This proclamation marks the first international anti-corruption declaration led and drafted by China. China's leadership in this framework has profound significance for establishing a new anti-graft order in the Asia-Pacific region and even the entire world.

Apparently, the highlight of the proclamation rests on deepening international cooperation to arrest overseas economic criminals and recover their ill-gotten gains. This area will be the key indicator to measure the execution of the proclamation.

The outdated framework of anti-graft corruption has long been a disadvantage to backward countries. Their efforts to fight corruption are often constrained by some obsolete and fogyish mindsets in terms of state system and ideology. They also encounter many obstacles in the international community, such as discrepancies in terms of laws and regulations, incompatibility of fact determination and a lack of judicial cooperation.

These inadequacies have been abused by those economic fugitives. By taking advantage of such loopholes, they are able to purchase legal identities, launder their black money and live a rich and decent life after fleeing their native countries.

So far, China's anti-corruption campaign, which was launched soon after the new leadership took office, has made dazzling achievements at home. It is high time that China should reach out its hands to overseas fugitives and take them back.

The Beijing proclamation is not propaganda full of empty and grandiose words. It has managed to grasp the optimum point at which practical cooperation can be conducted. It has also successfully gained leverage to balance various demands and keep divergences under control.

By integrating international anti-graft cooperation with the common interests of all economies, the proclamation plays a critical role in speeding up the establishment of an all-out network to crack down on economic fugitives.

Preventing economic suspects from fleeing and recovering their misappropriated gains are more difficult than just capturing these economic fugitives. China should keep hold of a dominant say in implementing the proclamation, and enhance cooperation in three ways.

The first is to strengthen information exchange to make sure all involved parties share abundant information about these fugitives so that they can be identified and put under surveillance.

The second is to build a case library and a training center to circulate on-the-front and advanced experience in surveillance, investigation, and case-files against corruption, bribery, money laundering and illicit trade.

The third is to improve China's capabilities to punish these fugitives in accordance with the law, such as amending the Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law. China should make more breakthroughs in negotiations with foreign countries, such as concluding more extradition treaties and making the usual havens for these criminals shut their doors.

With this inter-connected framework, China should be more confident and capable to catch these runaways, and justice will be done.

Gao Bo is deputy secretary general of the China Anti-Corruption Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 

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