BEIJING (AP) — Beijing's most wanted may be holed up in a Staten Island cul-de-sac or a suburb of California's Inland Empire. Others could be hiding in a waterfront condo in the Carribbean or the east end of London.
Chinese state media on Friday published the names and addresses of 22 people overseas who are being sought by Chinese anti-corruption investigators in an unusual name-and-shame campaign.
China Daily, the government-run English-language newspaper distributed in China and overseas, featured a full-page spread with photos, allegations and addresses — minus the street numbers — of people accused of corruption and white collar crime.
The notice appeared to be ramping up pressure on both the suspects themselves and the countries where they are living. The 22 people were said to be in the United States, Canada, Australia and other Western countries that have largely been reluctant to sign extradition treaties with China, citing its opaque justice system.
The ruling Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, released the information about the suspects so that the public might provide clues or drive them away from their residences, an agency official said. It said it was searching for a total of 946 people overseas.
"We hope the public will provide clues about the fugitives, as well as report corrupt officials who intend to flee," Liu Jianchao, director of the CCDI's International Cooperation Bureau, was quoted by China Daily as saying.
Liu said corrupt Chinese officials often flee to the U.S. or Canada because those countries do not have extradition treaties with China. He called on countries harboring the fugitives "to adhere to international conventions on fighting corruption," China Daily said.
The Communist Party has vowed to hunt down corrupt officials no matter where they are as part of an operation called Sky Net. President Xi Jinping has called corruption one of the gravest threats to the party.
Xi's far-reaching campaign has been popular with a Chinese public fed up with endemic corruption but has also been criticized by political dissidents and scholars, who say it has been used as a tool by party factions looking to eliminate political enemies and settle scores.
In some cases, China's overseas manhunts have appeared to blur the line between law enforcement and politics.
China announced last week it had asked Interpol to issue a "red notice" seeking the arrest of Guo Wengui, a billionaire who has been accused of bribing a former intelligence official. Guo told the AP he was targeted by Beijing because he pledged to expose personal secrets about top party leaders.
In 2015, China launched an international manhunt for Ling Wancheng, a businessman and brother of a former top presidential aide who was convicted on charges of corruption and leaking state secrets. Ling was widely reported to have information that would have deeply embarrassed top party leaders had he defected to the United States.
Guo, Ling and other high-profile fugitives were not among the 22 people on China Daily's list, which included a utility company executive suspected of embezzling public funds and a village chief allegedly involved in bank fraud.