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UPDATE 1-One of China's "most-wanted" fugitives returns from U.S. to surrender
March 9, 2017 / 11:25 AM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-One of China's "most-wanted" fugitives returns from U.S. to surrender

* Former state newspaper employee back to turn himself in

* China clawed back more than 1,000 people, about $347 mln last yr

* To focus on prevention and better global cooperation this year (Adds details of efforts to get fugitives back)

BEIJING, March 9 (Reuters) - A former employee of a state-owned newspaper who figured among China’s 100 “most-wanted” fugitives has returned from the United States to turn himself in, the top anti-graft body said on Thursday, as China mapped out its strategy on fugitives in 2017.

Last year, China brought back more than 1,000 people and assets of 2.4 billion yuan ($347 million) after kicking off its “Sky Net” campaign in 2014 to target corruption suspects who had fled overseas and the illicit funds they spirited out.

In the campaign’s latest victory, China has succeeded in bringing back Wang Jiazhe, who fled to the U.S. in 2000 amid allegations of contract fraud while working for the official newspaper in the northeastern province of Liaoning, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said.

Wang, 56, returned thanks to the efforts of “Sky Net”, the commission said in a statement on its website.

As part of President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign, China published a list of 100 most-wanted fugitives in April 2015, all subject to Interpol red notice arrest warrants.

Wang is the 39th fugitive on the list to return, the graft body said, without giving details, such as whether U.S. law enforcement provided assistance.

In a separate statement, the commission said this year’s “Sky Net” campaign will focus on prevention and better global cooperation, including aligning some criminal laws with international laws, though it did not say how this would happen.

“Preventing one person from fleeing, in some respects, is to get a person back,” it said.

In November, China’s most-wanted corruption suspect, Yang Xiuzhu, a former deputy director of the construction bureau in the southeastern city of Wenzhou, ended 13 years on the run by returning from the United States.

China has been trying to drum up international cooperation in its hunt for suspected corrupt officials who have fled overseas since Xi began his war on deeply-rooted graft more than four years ago.

Western countries, however, have been reluctant to help, or to sign extradition treaties, unwilling to send people back to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of criminal suspects remains a problem.

They also complain China is unwilling to provide proof of the crimes.

Instead, China has turned to methods of persuasion to get people back from countries such as Canada and the United States, where many graft suspects have holed up. ($1=6.9080 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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