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China asks foreign diplomats for closer cooperation in anti-graft war

BEIJING China asked foreign diplomats in Beijing to help “weave a cooperative network against corruption,” state media reported on Friday, as Beijing seeks greater international cooperation in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s four-year war on graft.

Xi has vowed to fight deep-rooted graft at all levels of the ruling Communist Party until officials “dare not, cannot and don’t want to” be corrupt, warning that a failure to deal with the rot could threaten the party’s future.

The drive is global, with authorities publishing a list of the 100 most-wanted corruption suspects that have fled abroad to places, including the United States, Canada and Australia, often taking their wealth with them.

China recovered 2.3 billion yuan ($334.47 million) in losses from graft from over 70 countries and regions in the first 11 months of 2016, authorities said last December.

But China has struggled to enlist the full cooperation of foreign nations in its efforts to find and repatriate Chinese fugitives, with countries citing China’s under-developed legal system as a reason for not signing a extradition treaty.

In an unusual step, Wu Yuliang, deputy head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), China’s top graft watchdog, briefed representatives of 113 diplomatic missions and 13 international organisations on Thursday about China’s anti-corruption work, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The article did not list the countries involved, but said the Greek ambassador to China, Leonidas Rokanas, was one of the attendees.

Wu described efforts to update China’s supervision mechanisms as a “major political reform”, which includes toughening laws against corrupt officials and establishing a national supervisory commission.

Wu also assured the crowd that China’s campaign to return corrupt officials and other fugitives from overseas was carried out in line with both China’s and other countries’ laws.

The country’s top legal body earlier this month released a legal interpretation of regulation that allow the seizure of ill-gotten gains from dead or absent corruption suspects, which state media at the time said would help China recover overseas assets.

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Randy Fabi)