US using dubious means to derail anti-graft drive
After China launched a campaign to root out corruption, some corrupt elements fled overseas to avoid punishment. Many of the corrupt officials and businesspeople who fled abroad have voluntarily returned home and surrendered to the authorities because of the Chinese government's earnest anti-corruption campaign.
But 20 of the 40 most wanted corruption suspects are still hiding in the United States. In order to bring those suspects to book, the Chinese government has launched the "Fox Hunt" campaign.
However, instead of cooperating with China to bring to justice those suspects, the US judicial authorities have labeled the Fox Hunt campaign illegal, and arrested and prosecuted some "fox hunters".
The US' actions show that its hegemonism is not limited to the military and diplomatic spheres, but also includes the fight against corruption. By harboring Chinese corrupt elements, the US is trying to use its domestic laws to derail China's fight against corruption in an attempt to contain China.
The Fox Hunt campaign is part of China's efforts to govern by law. The campaign's aim is to persuade criminals or suspects who have fled abroad to change their mind and voluntarily return to China to face the law. As part of the anti-corruption campaign, China has been directly contacting them and explaining to them in detail Chinese laws and policies, so they return their illegally gained wealth, win leniency from judicial organs and accept the legal punishment they deserve.
The Fox Hunt campaign is not a law enforcement or judicial measure carried out in the US without the administration's consent. Nor is it a national security operation conducted by Chinese intelligence agents inside the US, as some other countries do. All procedures under Fox Hunt are legal.
Some overseas Chinese, due to their patriotic zeal, persuaded (or tried to persuade) the criminals or criminal suspects in the US to return to China and surrender to the authorities, and by doing so, they did not break any US laws. Yet the US intelligence agencies and judicial authorities have linked them with the Fox Hunt campaign, accused them of wrongdoing, and detained or arrested them on groundless charges, equating a righteous cause with an illegal act, thereby exposing Washington's ulterior motives.
China has the right to launch a campaign against corruption and corrupt individuals. The Chinese government consulted experts and scholars, and learned from other countries' experiences to devise its anti-corruption regulations, which has won the support of many countries.
The Fox Hunt campaign puts emphasis on persuading criminals or suspects to surrender. As a state party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, China has always promoted global cooperation in the fight against corruption. The convention provides a universally binding legislative interpretation of corruption-related crimes, and requires all states parties to take effective and practical measures to crack down on corruption. So if the US tries to stop China from bringing corruption suspects to book, China has the right to seek legal redressal through the convention.
The US has always placed its domestic laws above international laws and blatantly refused to enforce international conventions. Also, it often uses "long-arm jurisdiction" in other countries to interfere in their internal affairs. Which means it is the US that is undermining the international legal system.
Whether it is motivated by domestic political considerations or is desperate to contain China, Washington is being naïve in using the Fox Hunt campaign to target China, because by so doing, it will prove that the US is indeed a haven for corrupt elements and that is was never interested in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of other countries' enterprises and citizens.
China will face problems in bringing fugitives and corruption suspects to justice if the US refuses to cooperate. And although China is taking measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese people through litigation and other means, it hopes the US government is aware that there is an international consensus on fighting corruption. Only by bringing corrupt elements to book and compelling them to hand over their ill-gotten wealth to the authorities can China deliver justice and protect the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese people.
So it is hoped the US authorities will realize their mistake and cooperate with Chin in the latter's anti-corruption drive.
The author is a professor at the Law School of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.
The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.