China's 'Fox Hunt' grabs 288 suspects in worldwide anti-graft net

A paramilitary policeman spreads a Chinese national flag during a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, in Hefei, Anhui province, on Oct 1, 2014. China has arrested 288 fugitives su
A paramilitary policeman spreads a Chinese national flag during a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, in Hefei, Anhui province, on Oct 1, 2014. China has arrested 288 fugitives suspected of committing economic crimes as part of an aggressive anti-corruption effort aimed at individuals who have fled abroad, the official government news agency Xinhua said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China has arrested 288 fugitives suspected of committing economic crimes as part of an aggressive anti-corruption effort aimed at individuals who have fled abroad, the official government news agency Xinhua said.

The campaign, dubbed Operation Fox Hunt, included the surrender of 126 suspects, Xinhua said, citing China's Ministry of Public Security.

China has conducted activities in 56 countries, including the United States, Canada, Spain, South Korea, and South Africa, it said, citing Vice Minister of Public Security Liu Jinguo.

President Xi Jinping has conducted a sweeping drive against corruption since assuming power two years ago. Qiu Xueqiang, the Supreme People's Procuratorate deputy procurator-general, told state media this month that the Communist Party had approved the establishment of a new anti-corruption geenral office under the prosecutor to strengthen that effort.

The Chinese government has given overseas graft suspects a deadline of December 1 to surrender, the report said, citing a Ministry of Public Security official. Those who surrender sooner may receive mitigated punishment.

China does not have extradition treaties with the United States, Canada and Australia - the three most popular destinations for suspected economic criminals.

In mid-October, Australian media reported that Australian police had agreed to assist China in the extradition and seizure of assets of corrupt Chinese officials.

Monday's report follows a similar announcement at the end of October, when the government said it had captured 180 overseas fugitives.