China's top legislature on Tuesday ratified four treaties during its 24th Session of the 10th Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). These were the Treaty of Good Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation with Afghanistan; the Occupational Safety and Health Convention 1981 with Turkmenistan; a treaty instituting judicial cooperation with Australia on criminal cases; and an extradition treaty with Azerbaijan.
According to the treaty with Afghanistan, which was signed by President Hu Jintao and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Beijing on June 19, 2006, the two sides are to enhance the fight against terrorism, separatism, and extremism.
"Under the treaty, China and Afghanistan will launch more military and security cooperation and expand exchanges in trade, agriculture, science, education, natural resources exploration and so on," Deputy Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said.
There are growing concerns that terrorists and drugs in Afghanistan are threatening peace and stability in China's western region.
The treaty consolidates China-Afghanistan ties, and represents a commitment to maintaining peace in Afghanistan and fighting East Turkistan terrorists in western China, a source with the Standing Committee of the NPC said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Convention 1981, a bilateral agreement signed with Turkmenistan that aims to tackle terrorism, separatism and extremism -- or "The Three Evil Forces" -- provides that the two countries will share information and technological support to this end.
The agreement also provides that suspected terrorists, separatists, and extremists as defined by the pact should be denied extradition as political refugees.
The 20-article pact, signed in Beijing on April 3, 2006, is the third international treaty to be signed by China to safeguard regional peace and stability.
China has also signed a collective agreement to fight the three evil forces with Kirghizia, Kazakhstan, Tadzhikistan and Uzbekistan, which are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional inter-governmental body.
A second pact was signed with Pakistan, an SCO observer, in 2005.
The treaty instituting judicial cooperation with Australia proves China's efforts in trying to forge an international network to combat rising cross-border crime.
"With closer political and economic ties and more personnel exchanges, criminal cases involving China and Australia are on the rise," deputy foreign minister Yang said.
Improved judicial cooperation, especially in handling criminal suspects who go into hiding in Australia, had therefore become increasingly necessary, Yang added.
The treaty will enable China to deal more effectively with economic crime cases where corrupt officials flee abroad to seek asylum in developed countries, analysts said.
Australia, which has no capital punishment, can refuse to offer China legal assistance if a criminal suspect faces the death sentence in China.
After negotiations, the two countries finally decided to omit mention of the death sentence in the treaty, preferring to "show enough attention respectively" in the memorandum of talks, a diplomatic source said.
Under the treaty, the two countries should provide each other with the "broadest assistance" possible in criminal investigations, prosecution and litigation.
But this assistance does not include extradition under the treaty.
Criminal cases also include violations of finance and tax laws, according to the treaty.
Police statistics show that 500 suspects wanted for economic crimes were on the run abroad in 2004. They were accused of crimes involving a total of more than 70 billion yuan (US$875 million).
A 2004 report released by the research institute under the Ministry of Commerce said about 4,000 Chinese officials suspected of crimes involving US$50 billion had fled overseas since China launched economic reforms in 1978.
(Xinhua News Agency November 1, 2006)