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Wednesday, November 16, 2016, 22:26

China's most wanted fugitive returns

By Xinhua
China's most wanted fugitive returns
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Yang Xiuzhu is escorted down a plane upon arriving at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing , Nov 16, 2016. (Yin Gang/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING - China's most wanted graft fugitive Yang Xiuzhu , who has been on the run for 13 years, finally returned to China Wednesday and turned herself in to authorities, according to the Communist Party of China's disciplinary watchdog.

Yang, 70, a former deputy director of the construction bureau of eastern China's Zhejiang province, fled China in April 2003 after graft inspectors began investigating her for embezzlement, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

She was number one on a list of China's top 100 fugitives released in an Interpol "red notice." Yang is the 37th person on the list to return.

Yang had been hiding in several places, including Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Singapore, France, the Netherlands and Italy.

She had applied for asylum in both France and the Netherlands, but was rejected before fleeing to the United States to seek asylum in May 2014.

The CCDI hailed Yang's return as "an important achievement in anti-graft law enforcement cooperation between China and the United States." The United States is a major destination for corrupt Chinese officials and economic fugitives.

China requested Yang's repatriation and provided the United States with evidence of her crimes. The US authority then put her in custody.

Yang's case was classified as one of the five major cases for apprehending and extraditing fugitives between China and the United States in December 2014, with both sides designating special personnel to tackle the cases.

Yang's assets were frozen or confiscated in accordance with law, according to the CCDI.

Her attitude toward returning home underwent drastic changes since she first left China. The CCDI said that Yang initially insisted that she would not to return to China before she was dead, but she softened her stance and eventually withdrew her asylum application and voluntarily turned herself in.

Yang's return proves the central authority's resolution in fighting corruption, the CCDI said, urging fugitives to give up their illusions and turn themselves in at the earliest possible date.

"Yang's return is a major achievement in China-US law enforcement cooperation on anti-corruption," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing.

According to Geng, China and the United States communicated and cooperated through a Joint Liaison Group on law enforcement cooperation, to secure the return of Yang.

"China appreciates the assistance of the United States and all other countries involved in the process," he said.

Geng said the successful cooperation shows that corruption is the common enemy of the international community.

The international community agree on a "zero tolerance, zero loopholes and zero barrier" approach in anti-corruption law enforcement cooperation, said Geng.

"China will continue to cooperate with other countries to bring back corrupt fugitives," the spokesperson said.

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