The U.S. has agreed with China to assist in the repatriation of so-called “economic fugitives” -- government officials suspected of corruption who have fled abroad -- following talks between security officials, the country's state media reported.
The agreement came as the result of talks between Chinese domestic security leaders Meng Jianzhu and Guo Shengkun, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
The parties also agreed to increase information sharing on on "foreign terrorist fighters through international databases", and agreed that neither country would provide refuge to fugitives, Reuters reported.
"Secretary Johnson and Minister Guo agreed to a more streamlined process to repatriate Chinese nationals with final orders of removal, while applications for protection will continue to be handled in accordance with U.S. law and American values," a Department of Homeland Security statement said.
The Chinese government has given the U.S. a priority list of Chinese officials suspected of corruption who are believed to have fled there, state media reported. The list includes over Chinese officials 150 officials believed to be in the U.S.
A crackdown on official corruption has become the centerpiece of Chinese President Xi Jinping's administration, and its effects have been felt across China. High-end businesses, such as luxury hotels and restaurants, have noted a decline in business since the campaign began, and many former high-ranking members of the ruling Communist Party have been dragged before the courts and jailed.
As part of the crackdown, China has been conducting operations, dubbed “Sky Net,” and “Fox Hunt”, to ensnare officials who flee abroad and return their assets to the country. China only has extradition agreements with 29 countries, meaning that arranging for the return of fugitives from many countries requires unorthodox diplomacy.
China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the agency tasked with pursuing the anti-corruption campaign, said that the country sometimes dispatches agents to meet with fugitives in foreign countries, in an attempt to persuade them to return home, and also provides other countries with evidence of criminal activity, including violations of that country's immigration laws, that might prompt their repatriation.
In Nov. 2014, China revealed that its operations had resulted in the arrest of 288 fugitives in 56 countries.
The U.S. and China have no formal extradition agreement, and officials from many Western countries have been reluctant to send fugitives back to China, over concerns about the fairness of the country's judicial system, and the punishments they might receive. In the past, China has executed some politicians convicted of corruption.
In a series of meetings between Chinese and U.S. officials, held since last year's APEC summit, the two countries have expressed an interest in pursuing ways other than a formal extradition treaty to repatriate fugitives.