International review Investigation

China renews call for US help on cybercrime, extradition of fugitive corruption suspects

Guo Shengkun. Source:South China Morning Star.

This material belongs to: South China Morning Post.

Beijing’s security chief also urges joint efforts to counter illegal immigration and terrorism.

China’s security chief has renewed calls for Washington to work with Beijing on cybersecurity and to repatriate illegal immigrants and fugitives wanted for corruption.

Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun, who is also one of the top-ranking members of China’s cabinet, issued the call at a Sino-US law enforcement and cybersecurity dialogue in Washington on Wednesday.

Guo said the two nations should also step up efforts to combat cybercrime and “promote a safe and orderly cyberspace”.

He also said China was willing to strengthen cooperation with the United States to tackle terrorism, transnational crime and the drugs trade.

China and the United States do not have an extradition treaty, a major barrier to Beijing’s efforts repatriate Chinese citizens it says are fugitives from corruption investigations at home.

Beijing has tried for many years to enlist other countries to arrest and repatriate graft suspects under President Xi Jinping’s massive anti-corruption campaign.

As part of that quest, China issued about 600 red notices through Interpol last year. It also issued a red notice in April for Guo Wengui, a fugitive businessman in exile in New York and seeking political asylum in the United States.

A red notice is a request to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition but Interpol cannot compel any member country to make such an arrest.

Chinese police issued an arrest warrant for Guo in April 2014 for allegedly bribing the country’s deputy spy chief. Guo fled overseas and began speaking out about alleged corruption in China.

He was scheduled to speak at US public policy think tank the Hudson Institute on Thursday but his appearance was cancelled a day before the event was to be held.

The cancellation also came on the same day as the Sino-US dialogue in Washington, a high-level communication channel set up after a summit in April between Xi and US President Donald Trump.

Chinese analysts said greater cooperation was in both countries’ interests but there were huge barriers to a breakthrough on the extradition issue.

Yuan Zheng, a US affairs expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said any repatriation case between China and the United States would be difficult if it involved politics.

“The US has little political trust in China, and US domestic opinion would be strongly against Washington sending back any person who could be mistreated by Beijing,” Yuan said. “But there is still hope. Cooperation on illegal immigration might be an easier place for the two countries to start, given Trump’s focus on the US’ immigration problems.”

Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of Peking University’s Clean Government Centre, said China and the US had different legal systems and definitions of a “political refugee”, hampering progress on an extradition treaty.

Zhuang said other countries, including the US, were concerned that evidence submitted by China would not meet acceptable standards for overseas courts. There were also worries that suspects would not get a fair trial in China and that allegations could be politically motivated.

Rights groups have criticised China for misusing Interpol’s red notice system to target exiled Uygurs from Xinjiang, accusing them of terrorism. Among those targeted is Dolkun Isa, general secretary of the Munich-based World Uygur Congress.