No safe havens for fugitives
Xu Chaofan, former head of the Kaiping sub-branch of Bank of China in Guangdong province, has been returned to China from the United States to face trial on charges of embezzlement and corruption, the top anti-corruption watchdog said on Wednesday.
Xu, who is accused of embezzling $485 million in bank funds, fled to the US in 2001. His repatriation demonstrates the Chinese authorities' resolve to bring anyone involved in corruption to justice wherever he or she flees. Xu is the first fugitive returned since the National Supervisory Commission was established in March.
His case was also the first under the China-US Criminal Judicial Assistance Agreement, and the first time Chinese witnesses were questioned in a US court by remote video.
Xu's repatriation therefore marks an important achievement in Sino-US law enforcement cooperation and will no doubt provide rich experience for cooperation with other countries.
This will strengthen China's crackdown on corruption and its intensified efforts to track down fugitives and recover stolen assets.
Some corrupt officials still harbor the illusion they can flee abroad to evade punishment. Xu's repatriation signals there will be no safe heaven for corrupt officials, and anyone hoping to take advantage of the differences in the law between China and other countries to gain a "protective umbrella" will be disillusioned.
China's determination to pursue corrupt fugitives and bring them to justice as a way of maintaining its legal authority and dignity remains unshakable. Between March 2015 and the end of April, Chinese police have brought back more than 4,000 economic fugitives to stand trial and confiscated nearly 10 billion yuan ($1.51 billion) in illicit assets. Xu's case is once again a reflection that there is no possibility for any fugitive to escape China's anti-corruption net.
China will further increase its law enforcement and judicial cooperation with other countries so the space for fugitives from justice is squeezed ever tighter, and there are no more so-called paradises for sinners.