CHINA - Signing an extradition treaty with the United States is essential to China's ongoing efforts to capture and repatriate economic fugitives, a senior security official has said.
Yet experts on both sides said an agreement may be unlikely in the short term, as obstacles and misunderstandings remain over China's judicial system and progress in human rights protection.
According to China's Ministry of Public Security, at least 150 Chinese economic fugitives, many of them corrupt officials, are hiding in the US.
Over the past 10 years, however, just two people wanted on criminal charges have been repatriated.
"We face practical difficulties in getting back fugitives who have escaped to the US due to the lack of an extradition treaty, as well as the complex and lengthy US legal procedures," said Liao Jinrong, director of the ministry's international cooperation bureau.
Some progress has been made in judicial cooperation in recent years, but it has been slow and is still far from enough, he said.
Justice officials from both countries meet every year, in August or September, to discuss major cases, and the ministry says it is attempting to set up an annual high-level meeting, such as with the US Department of Homeland Security, to exchange intelligence with the view to repatriating criminals and recovering illegal asset.