Chinese authorities have extradited Ji Wenhong, founder of online clothing retailer xiu.com, from Indonesia to face smuggling charges, the AP reports via New York Daily News. Indonesian officials returned Ji to China Saturday.
Authorities accuse Ji of having designed a system by which his company illegally imported goods from Europe and the US. Allegedly, the company would order goods from foreign clothing sellers and have the products shipped to Hong Kong. Then, travelers would carry the goods to mainland China, disguising them as personal belongings so as to avoid import taxes.
The AP cites Chinese authorities as saying the products were worth 438 yen ($65.5 million). Ji, authorities say, neglected to report the true value of the goods.
Ji fled China for Indonesia in May 2016 following the initial smuggling charges. His extradition is the latest fruit of Operations Fox Hunt and Sky Net, two concerted efforts by the Chinese government to repatriate a number of fugitives.
The international law enforcement operations, which President Xi Jinping launched as part of a comprehensive crusade against corruption in the government, have achieved a certain degree of success despite the reluctance of countries like the US and Hong Kong to cooperate in sending fugitives back to China. That reluctance stems from suspicions surrounding China’s human rights practices and the fairness of the country’s judicial system.
According to an AsiaToday report republished by The Huffington Post, the Sky Net and Foxhunt sent 381 alleged criminals, accused of stealing a combined 1.24 billion yuan ($186 million) from the government, back to China in the first half of 2017.
Despite their aforementioned reluctance to send fugitives back to China, the United States government has agreed to do so in cases in which China can provide sufficient proof of a criminal’s wrongdoing.
“We continue to encourage China to provide strong evidence and intelligence to ensure that our law enforcement agencies can properly investigate and prosecute cases related to the alleged corruption,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Business Insider in March 2015.
In September 2015, the US extradited Yang Jinjun to China to face bribery and graft charges, according to Reuters.
In early June of this year, US authorities extradited Zhu Haiping, former general manager of Shenzen Yuwei Industry Corporation, to face charges of what the Chinese government calls “violations of personal rights,” per Reuters.
AsiaToday reports that Zhu had been living in the US for 18 years. Immigration officials detained him in January, according to Reuters.
Reuters cites China’s Ministry of Public Security as saying the extradition was the first result of a cross-border law enforcement cooperation agreement forged between Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump in early April at Trump’s estate at Mar-a-Lago, a Florida resort.
Zhu’s repatriation, the Ministry added, per Reuters, was a “major achievement,” and a “model example” of things to come as a result of the Xi-Trump agreement.
China, Reuters says, is pursuing the extradition of Gun Wengei, a billionaire living in New York whom Chinese authorities have accused of making corruption allegations against top Chinese political officials.
According to AsiaToday, the Chinese government expects to apprehend 300 more fugitives by the end of 2017. Skynet relies upon the collaborative effort of at least four agencies in the Chinese government: the Central Organization Department, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Bank of China, BusinessInsider says.
The People’s Bank, according to BusinessInsider, aims to locate and shut down bank accounts criminals use to harbor illicit funds.
“There is no longer safety zone for criminals on the planet. This is even more so due to the development of information and communication. The day when we don’t have to foxhunt will come soon,” said Wang Defu, executive of the Public Security Bureau of Chaoyang District in Beijing, of Skynet, per AsiaToday.
Xiu.com, the AP reports, has acknowledged that some members of the company are under investigation but did not mention Ji by name. The company said it is operating normally.
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