China says anti-graft accord to be signed at APEC summit

BEIJING - Next month Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing will agree to a deal to fight corruption, China's foreign minister said on Wednesday, appealing for more international cooperation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping campaign against deep-seated graft since assuming power two years ago, but has been hampered to an extent by difficulty in getting corrupt officials and assets back from overseas.

China announced in July an operation called Fox Hunt to go after dirty officials who have fled overseas with their ill-gotten gains, with Australia, a popular destination for such criminals, having already promised cooperation.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a conference in Beijing that the anti-corruption plan was one of the agreements set to be signed at APEC, though he did not give details of its contents.

"Anti-corruption is one of the topics up for discussion, which all parties care about. The world has already seen China's determination and measures taken to fight corruption," Wang said.

"We hope to get cooperation and support from the international community, especially in getting back those who have fled and ill-gotten gains from relevant countries, so your country does not become a haven for hiding criminals," he added.

The United States, Canada and Australia are the three most popular destinations for suspected Chinese economic criminals, Chinese state media have said.

The sums of money believed to have been spirited out of China from all types of malfeasance are staggering. The Washington-based Global Financial Integrity group, which analyses illicit financial flows, estimates that US$1.08 trillion (S$1.35 trillion) illegally flowed out of China from 2002 to 2011.