China corruption probe
A man at a newsstand carrying a newspaper with front page cover of China's then Politburo Standing Committee Member Zhou Yongkang in Beijing on July 30, 2014. Reuters/Jason Lee

More than 150 people, who are wanted by China for investigation in graft cases, are taking refuge in the U.S., Xinhua reported Monday, citing government officials. The number of mainland officials, who are suspected to have moved assets offshore to other countries, is estimated to be nearly 1 million, according to Reuters.

Chinese officials are now trying to get the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to extradite the accused but have managed to try only two such fugitives so far, including Yu Zhendong, former head of the Bank of China’s (HKG:3988) branch in Kaiping in Guangdong province. Liao Jinrong, director general of the International Cooperation Bureau, which is part of China's Ministry of Public Security, also called for greater cooperation between Beijing and Washington in extraditing fugitives.

“The US has become the top destination for Chinese fugitives fleeing the law," Liao said, according to Xinhua, adding: “We face practical difficulties in getting fugitives who fled to the US back to face trial due to the lack of an extradition treaty and the complex and lengthy legal procedures."

Chinese police initiated a special campaign last month to nab fugitives abroad as Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a major crackdown against corruption in the country.

"They (the U.S.) always think Chinese judicial organs violate suspects' human rights," Wang Gang, a senior official from the America and Oceanic affairs division of the Public Security Ministry's International Cooperation Bureau, said, according to Xinhua, adding that the ministry is also trying to talk to U.S. authorities to allow annual high-level talks between the two countries.

Earlier this month, government officials detained Steven Cao, head of Edelman PR's China operations, who was cooperating with officials in an investigation on Rui Chenggang, a television presenter, who was arrested on corruption charges on July 11.

Relations between China and the U.S. have frayed in recent months, as both countries have sparred over issues such as cyber-espionage and China's territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. On Saturday, at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting, the U.S. had presented a proposal to resolve territorial disputes in the region but was rebuffed by China and other Southeast Asian countries.