Opinion / Editorials

Netting fugitive officials

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-24 08:01

Bringing to justice corrupt officials who have fled abroad with their ill-earned money is more than just a matter of justice and social fairness. It is also a potent way of deterring other corrupt elements from fleeing the country with their families and ill-gotten fortune.

At a time when the severe crackdown on corruption has considerably narrowed down the space for abuse of power and made it easier to catch corrupt officials, fleeing overseas has obviously become the last resort of rotten elements.

It is this last route of retreat that the Ministry of Public Security wants to block through its campaign to hunt down corrupt officials and other economic crime suspects who have fled abroad.

Despite the difficulties China faces in seeking the extradition of corrupt officials and economic crime suspects from some countries, the detailed plan of the new campaign announced on Tuesday gives the impression that the government will pull no punches in digging as deep and extending its net as far as possible to bring the fugitives to justice.

The overall plan includes making schemes by analyzing the particular situations under which corrupt officials or economic crime suspects fled the country, deepening cooperation with police in other countries, issuing notifications asking corrupt elements to surrender in exchange for lighter punishment and offering rewards to people who provide evidence or tips leading to the arrest of fugitive corrupt officials.

Such action was long overdue.

The grapevine is already full of stories mainly on how many corrupt officials have fled overseas and how much money they have carried with them. One estimate puts the total amount of money that has been moved out of the country at 800 billion yuan ($129.05 billion).

Factually speaking, 750 economic crime suspects have been brought back from 54 countries and regions since 2008 to face justice in China.

The Ministry of Public Security's intensified campaign will make it increasingly difficult for corrupt elements to seek safe havens overseas and could deter them from taking bribes or embezzling public funds.

There are people who doubt whether the anti-corruption campaign will succeed and suspect a batch of corrupt officials will possibly be replaced by another. The government's latest move against these fugitives and "naked officials" who have families abroad should convince them that the top leadership means business when it says corruption has to be eliminated and good governance established.

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