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An End to 'Steal and Run'

With the first global anti-corruption convention finalized and pending adoption by the United Nations General Assembly, China hopes to recover 5 billion yuan (around US$600 million) of assets, stolen by corrupt government officials and taken overseas.

The new convention will also have a tremendous deterrence impact on corrupt government officials in China, which will greatly reduce their chance of evading prosecution, said Shao Daosheng, a researcher with the China Academy of Social Sciences in an interview with Xinhua.


The "steal and run" strategy has been used by many greedy Party and government officials in China, Shao said.


He said a great number of officials suspected of taking bribes and embezzling are on the run, of which at least 4,000 have fled to foreign countries with more than five billion yuan, or about US$600 million, worth of assets.


According to experts, the anti-corruption convention's made breakthroughs in creating provisions to facilitate the return of assets stolen by officials in one country and transferred to another.


China has been actively engaged in the formulation of the convention, according to Shao, which "demonstrates the strong commitment of the Chinese government in rooting out corruption and promoting international coordination in this aspect."


The convention is expected to be approved by the UN General Assembly ahead of a signing ceremony in December. It will come into force after 30 countries have ratified its provisions into national law, a process that could take two years or more.


Anti-corruption expert Li Yongzhong said that China is in urgent need of improving its own legal system for the fight against corruption in addition to strengthening international cooperation.


"Economic globalization has also led to an increase of international crimes in new forms, including the crime of corruption," Li said.


Loopholes in China's economic and legal system, as well as lack of coordination with the international community, have encouraged corrupt officials to escape to foreign countries to avoid punishment, according to Li.


However, such situations have seen a change for the better, he said.


The recent UN convention on fighting organized crime and money laundering, and human trafficking, and the expected adoption of the anti-corruption convention are "sure to make life harder for the suspects on the run and make would-be criminals think twice before they act," Li said.


(People's Daily October 6, 2003)


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