China / Society

Beijing setting up G20's first center to aid corruption fight

By ZHANG YAN/CAO YIN (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-08 06:52

China is moving quickly to implement the anti-corruption consensus reached at the G20 Summit, which ended on Monday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, by setting up the group's first anti-graft research center in Beijing.

The center will provide intelligence support in the hunt for economic fugitives and confiscation of their ill-gotten assets.

The center, based at Beijing Normal University, will officially begin operations in a few months.

Dozens of experts and professionals who specialize in graft-related studies from China and other G20 economies will be recruited, according to the Communist Party of China's Central Commission of Discipline Inspection, the country's top discipline watchdog.

"The establishment of such a center will lay a solid foundation for studies of cross-border corruption crimes and offer intelligence support to fight corruption globally," said Cai Wei, deputy director general of the CCDI's Department of International Cooperation.

He said the center will conduct in-depth research among G20 members on corruption crimes, including comparing domestic and foreign laws, procedures for confiscating illegal assets and extradition and judicial assistance. Transnational commercial bribery will also be studied.

The center will also set up a database of experts and lawyers from G20 members with knowledge of anti-corruption law enforcement, criminal law and asset recovery. These experts will conduct research and training and will share their experiences in tackling such problems, according to the CCDI.

To enhance international law enforcement cooperation, members of the G20 decided at the summit to set up an anti-corruption research center. Additionally, they adopted the G20 2017-18 Anti-Corruption Action Plan.

Cai said establishing the anti-graft center in Beijing has won the support of the G20 economies. "Western countries are willing to offer intelligence support and technical assistance to hunt the fugitives, and the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)...are looking forward to having such a center."

In recent years, many G20 economies, such as the United States, Canada and Australia, have become popular destinations for fleeing corrupt officials, due to a lack of bilateral extradition treaties and differences in laws, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Since 2014, when China initiated Skynet operations to target the fugitives, 2,020 economic fugitives, including 342 corrupt officials, have been brought back to face trial from more than 70 countries and regions. Additionally, 7.62 billion yuan ($1.14 billion) in illegal funds has been seized, CCDI data show.

Huang Feng, an international criminal law professor from Beijing Normal University, said political and legal differences, as well as technological and investigative shortcomings, have hindered the progress in capturing China's fugitives and seizing their ill-gotten assets.

"Setting up such a center is considered an innovation under the current anti-graft cooperative mechanism, and it will serve as a platform to communicate with the Western countries and enables China to participate in drawing up international anti-graft rules," he said.

Evelyn Mantoiu, a policy analyst from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom who attended the Business 20 Summit on Saturday in Hangzhou, said the establishment of such a research center shows strong commitment from global leaders to tackle corruption.

But the center will only be useful if research is carried out independently and is peer-reviewed, in order to minimize the potential of research bias, Mantoiu added.

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