Analyst: Dialogue helping anti-graft fight

Updated: 2016-03-11 12:11

By Hezi Jiang in New York(China Daily USA)

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China's solid evidence, effective communication with the US have made progress possible

Analyst: Dialogue helping anti-graft fight

David Firestein

Recent cooperation between the United States and China in combating corruption is encouraging, according to David Firestein, vice-president of the East West Institute.

"What we have seen recently, particularly since last fall, is an increasing willingness on the part of the United States to work with China on some of these corruption ... cases," he said.

In 2015 alone, 48 fugitives were returned to China from the US — including three who were forcefully sent back — whereas only two fugitives suspected of economic crimes were brought back from the US from 2003 to 2013, according to China's Ministry of Public Security.

Firestein said that effective communication and China's strong attitude on the issue made the progress possible.

"As the US government, federal police authority, and local police authority have learned more about the specifics regarding certain cases, they have been more willing to work collaboratively toward the common goal of holding people who've violated the law accountable," said Firestein.

"After they have gotten more evidence to substantiate some of the allegations, they've seen that some of them are legitimate cases."

According to Zhang Xiaoming, a senior official from China's Ministry of Justice, the country has been offering the US judicial system "more solid evidence".

Apart from information about the fugitives' likely whereabouts, Chinese law enforcement authorities provide sound reports about the suspects' illicit activities back home and the amount of funds they might have transferred abroad, to form a "complete chain of evidence", Zhang said.

For Firestein, "the seriousness with which the Communist Party seems to be taking this whole process" has also made an impression on US policymakers, providing greater grounds for cooperation.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party, the country's top anti-corruption watchdog, investigated 330,000 cases of graft and frugality violations last year and punished 336,000 officials — a record number in the past 20 years.

China also has launched a campaign code-named "Sky Net", targeting 100 key officials who had fled overseas.

"I think what we are seeing is the United States taking seriously China's commitment to anti-corruption," said Firestein.

"The government is trying to do what it can within the constraints of US laws."

Firestein said President Xi Jinping's state visit last September had a positive impact on anti-corruption cooperation.

"I think that President Xi was able to make the point to President Obama and to other senior folks he met just how serious China is about its anti-corruption efforts," he said.

"When you put all those things together, it has led to a pretty good number and a growing number of cases of success and cooperation, and that number of cases will continue to grow."

Firestein recommended that the Chinese government continue doing what it has been doing.

"Which is to say: Here is the case; here is the evidence; here are the relevant Chinese laws; here is what substantiates these charges; here are witnesses," he said.

"That will help US officials to make decisions that are well-informed and probably lead to more instances of convicted or alleged criminals sent back to China."

"Substantiating these charges and meeting US standards is probably the key to success," he added.