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APEC Anti-corruption Officials Pledge Action
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More than 100 senior law officers attending the three-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Anti-Corruption Workshop, the first in APEC's framework, have vowed to put words into action.

Li Yufu, vice-minister of supervision, said at the opening ceremony: "Only by augmenting bilateral, multilateral as well as regional and international cooperation and setting up an anti-corruption mechanism can an effective fight against corruption be possible."

Co-sponsored by the Chinese and United States governments the forum highlights a number of issues including denial of safe haven, asset recovery and extradition. These issues were "of great and realistic significance," Li said.

Statistics from the World Bank indicate that the value of assets which corrupt officials transfer between developed and developing countries had reached US$1 trillion annually.

"Corruption jeopardizes the integrity of world markets, facilitates international crime and terrorism, (and) diverts public investment away from areas that need it most, " said Debra Wong Yang, a senior US attorney from the Central District of California.

No country or region should serve as a safe haven for criminals suspected of corruption using the excuse of differences in political or legal systems, said Dong Hai, deputy director of the General Office of the Ministry of Supervision.

From 1993 to 2005, more than 230 Chinese fugitives were extradited from over 30 countries with the support of the International Criminal Police Organization, Dong said. He added that China had repatriated several foreign criminal suspects.

To ensure the recovery of assets, Dong suggested that levels of cooperation be increased not only between law enforcement departments but also with auditing, financial prosecution and bank departments.

The Chinese Government had signed mutual legal assistance treaties in criminal matters with 39 countries and extradition treaties with 26, said Zhang Xiaoming of the Ministry of Justice.

Participants attending the workshop agreed that the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which took effect last December 14, included principles that are critical to fighting the crime.

By April 1, 140 countries had approved the convention and the number of parties stood at 50, said Fujino Akiro, representative of the Regional Center for East Asia and Pacific, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.

In China, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is speeding up legislative efforts to match the situation after it approved the convention last October 27, Dong said.

The three-day workshop, which concludes today, is the brainchild of President Hu Jintao and US President George W. Bush, who agreed to enhance cooperation to fight corruption when attending the APEC Summit in November 2004 in Santiago, Chile, organizers said.

(China Daily April 26, 2006)

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