Some American officials have anonymously stated in the western media that the U.S. will not tolerate the Chinese government pressuring the family members of Chinese fugitives who have escaped to the U.S. to urge them to return to China and surrender to the authorities. Not long ago, Yang Xiuzhu, whose name topped the list of 100 people most wanted by the Chinese government for corruption, returned to China to surrender to the Chinese authorities, an action which presumably shocked a lot of corrupt officials still at large. On Nov. 11, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security Vice Minister Meng Hongwei was elected president of Interpol, causing a significant amount of concern. Some western media outlets have stated that this means that Interpol will arrest more corrupt Chinese officials who remain at large.
Of the corrupt officials who have fled abroad, a considerable proportion has fled to the United States. They did not leave China empty-handed; they generally left with large amounts of illegal property. China has ordered the arrest of these fugitives due to sufficient evidence against them, and has, through communication with their relatives, made a few reasonable and fair attempts to convince them to return to China and hand themselves in to the authorities. To say that the families of fugitives are under pressure and that the Chinese government is doing something bad is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.
So many corrupt Chinese officials have escaped to the U.S. that from an objective standpoint, the U.S. has become a harbor for them. The U.S. is not ashamed of this at all. On the contrary, it is self-confident and acting as if it were in the right, and China’s attempts to convince the corrupt officials to return home have been criticized as shameful by Americans. Just where has this American righteousness come from?
Many analysts believe that Americans are money-grubbers because these corrupt fugitive officials all carry lots of money, and all they have to do is stay in America and those stolen goods effectively become like fertilizer enriching American fields. To a certain extent, repatriating a corrupt official is much harder than repatriating a murderer, and this is due to money. As many developing countries have corrupt officials who have stolen funds and headed for America, America has, in a sense, become a particular beneficiary of global corruption.
The ‘red notice’ and arrest of Yang Xiuzhu will certainly have intimidated other fugitives, and America has now shown signs that could be understood as wanting to protect those fugitives and their family members from being bothered. Is there any doubt that the U.S. wants to ease the worries of those who frighten easily? In fact, those corrupt officials who have fled to the U.S. have not lived a life free from anxiety at all. They have mostly lived scared and on the edge for years on end. Some people have concealed their identity, not daring to show their face in public; they are surely under great amounts of mental stress. If the U.S. would cooperate with China’s “Operation Fox Hunt,” then China’s anti-corruption achievements would be even better.*
The U.S. and China have entered into negotiations many times in recent years to discuss the issue of corrupt Chinese officials in America, and the two countries have reached some understandings. “China and the U.S. will collaborate to crack down on cross-border corruption and criminal activity.”** This is familiar news in Chinese public opinion and has already improved some Chinese people’s feelings about Washington. We cannot say that the level of U.S. cooperation in urging corrupt Chinese officials to return home and stand trial is zero, but in reality the level of cooperation from Washington is extremely low.
Now and then, America says and does the same old things, but overall it all just leaves the Chinese public disappointed. The U.S. has now publicly opposed the pressure put on the fugitive corrupt officials and their family members by China. Is this ultimately one step forward and one step back, or one step forward and two steps back? The U.S. often uses the excuse of the caring about the human rights of corrupt officials, and Chinese people find it very hard to understand why Washington always shelters China’s national separatists, political criminals, and corrupt officials who grab money and run.
It would be really nice if the U.S. were more normal when it came to what is right and wrong, and if it didn’t give fugitive corrupt officials its sympathy. Instead, the people who want to bring these fugitives to justice are said to be abusing their power.
There are differences between the American and Chinese political and legal systems. On the one hand, we have fugitives, and, on the other hand, we have those who advise them to return home to stand trial. At the end of the day, who is it that most deserves the American government’s support and assistance? This should be obvious at a glance. It is indisputable. The U.S. might even counter this question by saying that America is always correct, that it is the one who distributes justice. And that answer will just leave China dumbstruck.
*Editor’s note: Operation Fox Hunt refers to the search by Chinese security authorities for corrupt officials and their assets.
**Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, the source of this quotation and its content could not be independently verified.