In the past five months, China arrested 329 fugitives accused of economic crimes as part of an ambitious anti-corruption effort called Operation “Fox Hunt.” It targets individuals who have fled abroad. Some 150 who were promised leniency have turned themselves in. CCTV America’s Hou Na reported this story from Beijing.
China’s ‘Fox Hunt’ anti-corruption operation arrests more than 300In the past five months, China arrested 329 fugitives accused of economic crimes as part of an ambitious anti-corruption effort called Operation “Fox Hunt.” It targets individuals who have fled abroad. Some 150 who were promised leniency have turned themselves in. CCTV America’s Hou Na reported this story from Beijing.
After three years on the run, a surrendered fugitive Mr. Chen decided to return to China and turn himself in to authorities. It was the first time he was back after fleeing to Mexico three years ago.
“I had complex feelings of excitement and nervousness after I got on the plane. My blood pressure kept jumping high. I grew up in China, and the feeling of not being able to go back home gave me sleepless nights,” Chen said. He had allegedly embezzled millions of dollars from the company he’d been working for and was placed under investigations in 2010. He fled to Mexico and began his life as a fugitive.
Looking back, he called it a nightmare and said his biggest regret was missing his daughter’s wedding.
“Because of the language barrier, it is very difficult to survive in other countries. I missed my family so much and felt so guilty for them,” Chen said. He was one of many fugitives who were accused of economic crimes to return home.
China launched its Fox Hunt 2014 operation in July, targeting corrupt officials and suspects in economic crimes who have fled the country. The goal was to “block the last route of retreat” for corrupt officials involved in ongoing crackdowns and narrow the space for abuse of power.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said it was determined to fight corruption and expressed the hope of continued international cooperation.
“China has been actively seeking bilateral judicial assistance with other countries. We have signed an agreement on judicial assistance, extradition, and the transferring of convicted persons with around 63 countries. We hope to expand cooperation with relevant countries to pursue fleeing officials and their stolen assets, and together combat crimes of corruption,” Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.
Corrupt Chinese officials have been fleeing abroad for decades, transferring assets worth billions of dollars overseas through money laundering and underground banks. The country continues to face difficulties in the return of these officials due to a lack of bilateral extradition treaties and political and legal problems with some countries, including the U.S., Canada, and Australia, which are three popular destinations for Chinese economic fugitives.
In a bid to overcome some of these obstacles, experts said that these countries should first strengthen political will and abandon prejudice. At the same time, China needed to strengthen communication with these countries, improving mutual trust and appropriately addressing judicial obstacles in a pragmatic and feasible way.