China, aiming to aid graft fight, urges extradition treaty with U.S
May 18, 2015 10:26 AM EDT
China and the United States should start talks on an extradition treaty as soon as possible, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, as Beijing seeks the return of citizens suspected of corruption who have fled to the U.S.
Wang made the comments on Saturday to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is on a two-day tour to China.
An extradition treaty with the United States would be a big boost for China's anti-corruption campaign. Beijing has vowed to pursue a search, dubbed Operation "Fox Hunt", beyond its borders for corrupt officials and business executives, and their assets.
"Looking at the long-term development of bilateral relations, it is necessary to conclude a bilateral extradition treaty and I hope that both sides can start talks as soon as possible," Wang was quoted as telling Kerry, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry's website.
Wang told Kerry that the U.S. "has become a major destination" for suspected corrupt fugitives.
WILLING TO COOPERATE
The Chinese statement quoted Kerry as telling Wang the United States does not want to be a "safe haven" for corrupt fugitives and that Washington "is willing to strengthen cooperation with China" in the pursuit of fugitives and stolen goods.
Chinese officials say past efforts to establish an extradition have drawn a response that Washington was "not ready" for one. The officials say that some judges in Western countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, harbor "prejudice" about China's legal system and were reluctant to return officials and executives suspected of corruption.
U.S. officials have said whether or not any fugitive is returned to another country depends on whether the United States was satisfied the person would receive a fair trial and not be subject to torture or other forms of mistreatment.
State media said in March that China has provided a "priority" list to the U.S. of Chinese governments officials who are suspected of corruption and are believed to have fled to the U.S.
Last year, Chinese officials said more than 150 "economic fugitives", many of them described as corrupt government officials, were in the U.S.
Western countries have balked at extradition deals with China, partly out of concern about the integrity of its judicial system and treatment of prisoners. Rights groups say authorities use torture, and the death penalty is common in corruption cases.