China and Australia yesterday inked an extradition treaty as part of joint efforts to combat crime.
The agreement was signed by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, and witnessed by visiting President Hu Jintao and Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
The two sides also signed a pact on transfer of convicts.
The two treaties, together with the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty that came into force in March, will ensure that the two countries are in a strong position to effectively combat domestic and transnational crime so that neither country will become a safe haven for fugitives.
"Extradition and transfer-of-prisoner relationships with other countries are important tools in the effective administration of criminal justice," said Ruddock.
"They strengthen our ability to combat transnational crime and allow prisoners to serve their sentences in a more familiar environment," he said.
Australia joins countries such as France, Spain and Portugal in signing an extradition treaty with China.
Around 800 Chinese economic crime suspects are reported to have fled abroad with more than 70 billion yuan ($9.1 billion) involved in the cases. Most of them are from the financial sector or State-owned enterprises, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
The signing of extradition treaties will make it more difficult for criminals to seek shelter abroad, said Huang Feng, a professor of international law at Beijing Normal University.
"Many individual cases on extraditing criminals are solved on the basis of coordination and cooperation between countries. The signing of the extradition treaty will make it an international responsibility," Huang said.
Despite various barriers, China should push negotiations with other countries for such accords, he said.
China started to sign extradition treaties in the 1990s, and has reached pacts with at least 30 nations.
Some countries, which have abolished the death penalty and do not allow extradition to nations where it is applied, are hesitant about signing the pact with China, where the penalty has been a longstanding integral part of the criminal justice system.
Source: China Daily