US backs China's campaign to hunt down fugitive corrupt officials

BEIJING (China Daily/Asia News Network) - The United States has agreed to streamline the procedure to repatriate Chinese corrupt officials abroad following meetings between security officials from the world's two largest economies, a news report said, quoting a statement from the US Department of Homeland Security.

In the statement released on Saturday, the department said US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson had reached an agreement with the Chinese side over simplifying the process to repatriate Chinese citizens who have received final deportation orders, China News Service reported.

Johnson visited China for the meetings between April 9 and 10, the first of its kind by a US Secretary of Homeland Security in nine years.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will work closely with Chinese Ministry of Public Security to verify the real identity of Chinese citizens applying for travel documents and they will also ensure the arrangement of regular chartered flights to advance the repatriation process, according to the statement.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made the fight against graft a signature theme of his administration. China's anti-corruption watchdog said last month more than 500 suspects were repatriated to China last year, along with more than 3 billion yuan (S$661.32 million).

But more than 150 "economic fugitives", including corrupt government officials, are believed to be still on the run in the United States.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported late Friday that the United States had promised support for China's campaign to hunt corrupt officials fleeing abroad.

Talks this week between Chinese domestic security leaders Meng Jianzhu and Guo Shengkun, and Jeh Johnson also touched on counter-terrorism, intellectual property rights, maritime law enforcement and cybersecurity issues, Xinhua said.

Guo said the two sides should seek cooperation in law-enforcement, Xinhua said, and that both sides agreed they would not provide refuge to fugitives.

The Chinese government has given the United States a priority list of Chinese officials suspected of corruption and who are believed to have fled there, state media has reported.