China seeks summits on fugitives

Beijing (China Daily/ANN) - Chinese Ministry of Public Security is working to set up an annual high-level meeting with US judicial officials in a bid to catch and return more Chinese fugitives.

"We're negotiating with the US Department of Homeland Security and will try to arrange the first summit this year," said Wang Liqiang, a senior official in the ministry's international cooperation bureau.

The meeting is expected to bring together the minister of public security and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with their US counterparts to discuss cooperation on intelligence, operations, suspect repatriations and the recovery of stolen assets.

An annual roundtable has already been held between the international cooperation bureau, the Foreign Affairs Ministry's legal treaty department and several US agencies, including the Department of Justice.

"This is far from enough, and we urgently need a senior-level platform that can help law enforcement in North America better understand Chinese law and legal procedures, and assist us in fugitive repatriation and asset recovery," Wang said.

With the aim of boosting cooperation, China has been sending police liaison officers abroad since 1998. Today, the country has 80 officers stationed at 24 Chinese embassies in 23 countries and regions, including the US, Canada, Russia, France and Japan.

"Police liaison officers work on the front line and serve as the best bridge between Chinese judicial bodies and foreign counterparts," said Liao Jinrong, who is also with the international cooperation bureau.

However, Wang Zhigang, who held such a post in the US from 2004 to 2008, said legal differences, as well as complex and lengthy procedures, remain the biggest hurdles to finding and returning Chinese fugitives from North America.

During his time, he said more than 200 economic fugitives were at large in the US and he was one of only three officers charged with bringing them back.

"It usually took three to five years to repatriate an economic crime fugitive after constant communication with US judicial authorities," he said. "US law enforcement had no knowledge of our legal system."

Chinese liaison officers do not have judicial powers, so they must only rely on local police to investigate and obtain evidence.

"First, we had to submit detailed case files, including warrants issued by Interpol, to the FBI and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and request their assistance," Wang Zhigang said.

However, they did not further investigate the alleged crimes, he explained. "Only if the fugitives were suspected of illegal immigration or money laundering, and after grasping solid evidence, would US police consider detaining and charging them under local law."

Meanwhile, fugitives often appealed to higher courts and hired attorneys to delay the hearing, all of which slowed the repatriation process, he said.

Pursuing fugitives is only part of a liaison officer's work. Wang said he paid more attention to combating cross-border crime targeting overseas Chinese, such as telecom fraud, smuggling of drugs or firearms, and human trafficking.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 11 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners 12 hours ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • Why you can't buy America's greenest car 15 hours ago
    Why you can't buy America's greenest car

    Ask me or any auto expert what's the fastest car you can buy for any given amount, and we could easily cough up several options. Same for most luxurious, or off-roadable, or any other measurement. Yet there's one type of question that's far harder to answer: What's the greenest, most environmentally friendly car you can buy today?

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • David Moyes statement after Man United firing
    David Moyes statement after Man United firing

    Statement released by David Moyes on Wednesday, a day after Manchester United announced he left as manager after less than a season in charge.

  • Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake
    Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake.