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    China Business
     Oct 29, 2005
China ratifies UN anti-corruption convention

BEIJING - To curb the flight of corrupt officials who abscond with public funds abroad to evade punishment, China's top legislature ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in a unanimous vote on October 27.

"The unanimous vote demonstrates the strong determination of the top lawmaking body to stamp out corruption in collaboration with the international community," said Li Mingyu, member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

With the approval by 157 members of the committee, China will become one of the first group of more than 30 countries to enforce the international law, which will go into effect on December 14 this year. The convention "is conducive to the repatriation of corrupt criminals fleeing abroad and the recovery of Chinese assets illegally transferred to foreign lands", Premier Wen Jiabao said in a bill submitted to the legislature October 22.

Chinese police authorities have said that, as of the end of 2004, more than 500 Chinese suspects of economic crimes, mostly corrupt officials or executives of state-owned companies, were at

large in foreign countries. They took with them a total of 70 billion yuan (US$8.4 billion) of public funds, and only a fraction have been extradited to China.

The UN anti-corruption convention, adopted by the UN General Assembly on October 31, 2003, contains a variety of stipulations on transnational corruption including prevention measures, the criminalization of specific acts, international cooperation, assets recovery clauses and implementation mechanisms. China signed the document in December 2003. By September 15, 30 countries will have ratified the convention, which will go into effect on December 14 of this year.

The convention is consistent with China's anti-corruption strategy of putting equal emphasis on the punishment and prevention of such crimes and does not contradict Chinese domestic laws, said Wu Dawei, vice minister of foreign affairs. "Most importantly, [the convention] will provide a strong international legal basis for China to overcome [its] difficulties in investigating [and] extraditing criminals suspected of corruption and recovering Chinese assets in foreign countries," Wu said.

China has been active in seeking international cooperation in the fight against corruption. Since 1998, Chinese prosecutors have captured a total of about 70 criminal corruption suspects from abroad through legal assistance channels with foreign countries.

The successful extradition from the United States in 2004 of Yu Zhendong, a former local branch head of the Bank of China in Guangdong Province, was lauded as the most powerful deterrent to date for corrupt Chinese officials, since would-be fugitives had considered the US as the safest destination to escape from punishment. Yu misappropriated US$483 million before fleeing to the US.

Chinese police have also seized more than 230 Chinese criminal suspects from more than 30 countries and regions during the 1993 to January 2005 period with the help of Interpol, the international police body. Fan Xin, another lawmaker, told Xinhua that China should proceed immediately with the formulation or revision of its laws, including criminal codes, statutes on money laundering, and private-sector bribery, to better adapt the Chinese legal system to the UN anti-corruption convention.

(Asia Pulse/XIC)

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