20:24 GMT07 July 2020
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    United States and Chinese officials will meet in August to discuss the possibility of repatriating Chinese officials who fled to America with billions of dollars of allegedly stolen government assets, a State Department official said.

    The absence of an extradition treaty between the US and China makes America an attractive destination for Chinese officials fleeing the country, and a haven for the assets they allegedly stole.

    Western governments have been reluctant to extradite suspects because of China’s murky judicial system. International human rights groups say the Chinese use torture to extract confessions, and government officials convicted of corruption have been sentenced to death.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a press conference to close the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November.
    © AP Photo / Goh Chai Hin
    Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a press conference to close the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November.

    Officials from both countries met last month in the Philippines.

    Law enforcement and legal experts will be there when meetings resume in August. The countries will share specific intelligence on the allegedly corrupt Chinese officials and stolen assets, and discuss possible ways to return the fugitives to China, Reuters reported.

    Alternatives to extradition include deportation for violations of US immigration law.

    Canada, which also has no formal extradition treaty with China, has extradited suspects wanted by Beijing. In 2011, Canada sent Lai Changxing, a businessman wanted for corruption, back to China on the promise that he would not be executed. He was sentenced to life in prison.

    Last year, Chinese officials said more than 150 "economic fugitives,” many of them described as corrupt government officials, were in the US, Reuters reported.

    Neither country has publicly estimated how much money has been smuggled from China into the US, but the Washington-based Global Financial Integrity group estimates that between 2003 and 2012, $1.25 trillion of illicit cash left China.

    Some of that moves around the world through dummy bank accounts before it arrives in the United States, where it is often invested in real estate, making it difficult to trace.

    Last month’s talks between the two countries were held as part of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation international working group, which was formed in Beijing in August 2014 to fight cross-border corruption, Reuters reported.

    President Xi Jinping has intensified China’s anti-corruption efforts, which include increased cooperation between the US and China, including the sharing of criminal intelligence.

    The US has applauded China’s recent anti-corruption campaign and is invested in helping in the fight, and more generally in fighting international corruption.

    economic fugitives, corruption, APEC, Xi Jinping, Canada, China, United States
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