Opinion / Editorials

Chasing corrupt officials

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-18 07:44

Asia Pacific Economic Forum members met in Beijing on Friday to launch the APEC Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies, which will hopefully facilitate cross-border cooperation in the fight against graft. For China, which has been trying its best to prevent corrupt officials from escaping overseas, it is undoubtedly good news.

If the network can be put into operation as soon as possible and function as it should, corrupt elements who intend to flee overseas will have to think twice if their destinations are APEC members. And it will also be easier for China to bring back those who have already fled to these destinations.

Since China's anti-graft campaign has been so intensified that 40 ministerial or higher level officials are being investigated and thousands of lower level ones probed for abuse of power in less than two years since the end of 2012, the pressure has never been greater to block corrupt officials from fleeing overseas and bring to justice those who have already fled overseas and are enjoying a peaceful life with the booty they have taken with them.

On the one hand, quite a number of corrupt officials become so restless that they will try their best to flee once they have made preparations by sending their families and their illegal assets overseas. That explains why governments at all levels are sorting out 'naked officials' who have families staying overseas and sidelining them in less important positions.

On the other hand, if hundreds of corrupt elements that have already fled the country appear to be getting away with their crimes of taking bribes and embezzling public money just by staying overseas, a sense of justice and fairness will hardly prevail. Some of those who are caught will simply consider themselves 'unlucky' rather than sincerely atone for the crimes they have committed.

Good cooperation with APEC members in this respect will likely promote China's cooperation with the United States in the same area. There are about 150 corrupt Chinese officials or economic crime suspects staying in the US. Cooperation in indicting or extraditing them has long been an issue under discussion between the two countries.

Successful joint efforts with other countries in cracking down on corruption will put the US to shame: a democratic country with rule of law being an enclave for corrupt elements.

So the potential cooperation among APEC members should aid China's crackdown on corruption in many ways.

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