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China to ratify UN pact against corruption
Updated: 2005-10-23 09:33

The Chinese government on Saturday tabled the international document with its legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, for ratification in less than two years after subscripting to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The convention "is conducive to the repatriation of corrupt criminals fled abroad and the recovery of Chinese assets illegally transferred to foreign lands," Premier Wen Jiabao said in a bill submitted to the legislature.

China has been increasingly plagued by government officials and executives of state-owned companies who abscond with a large sum of public money and flee overseas to escape from prosecution and punishment.

Chinese police authorities said that by the end of last year, more than 500 Chinese suspects had committed economic crimes, most of whom were corrupt officials, were at large in foreign countries, who carried with them a total of 70 billion yuan (8.4 billion US dollars) of illegal funds. Only a fraction of them have been extradited back to China.

The UN anti-corruption convention, adopted by the UN General Assembly in October 31, 2003, has made stipulations on the prevention, criminalization, international cooperation, assets recovery and implementation mechanism in the fight against transnational crimes of corruption.

The convention is consistent with China's anti-corruption strategy of putting equal emphasis on punishment and prevention of such a crime and has no contradictions with Chinese domestic laws in this regard, said Wu Dawei, vice-minister of foreign affairs, at Saturday's legislative hearing.

"Most importantly, it will provides a strong international legal basis for China to solve the current difficulties in investigating, extraditing criminal suspects of corruption and recovering Chinese assets in foreign countries," Wu told legislators.

The vice-minister also said China has played a "constructive role" in the formulation of this legal document to make it reflect Chinese stance "to the maximum extent."

China has attached great importance to international cooperation in the fight against corruption. Chinese prosecutors have captured a total of about 70 criminal suspects of corruption from abroad through legal assistance channels with foreign countries since 1998.

The successful extradition from the United States of a local branch head of the Bank of China in Guangdong Province in 2004 was lauded as the most powerful deterrence for Chinese corrupt officials, since the country used to be taken as the safest destination to escape from prosecution. Yu Zhendong, the banker, misappropriated 483 million US dollars before fleeing to the United States.

Chinese police has also seized more than 230 Chinese criminal suspects from more than 30 countries and regions during the period of 1993 to January this year with the help of Interpol, the international police body.

Wu Dawei, vice-minister of foreign affairs, said that China is busy formulating the law on the prevention and punishment of money laundry and revising its criminal law, in an effort to better adapt Chinese legal system to the UN anti-corruption convention upon its ratification.

China signed the document in December in 2003. By September 15,30 countries have ratified the convention, which will goes into effect on December 14 this year.

The convention has been one of the most noticeable efforts of the United Nations in tackling a growing trend of internationalization of corruption.

Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, said upon the adoption of the convention that "Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a government's ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice, and discouraging foreign investment and aid."

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