More than 150 economic fugitives, many of whom are corrupt officials or suspected of graft in China, are at large in the United States, Chinese state media said on Monday, citing a senior official from the public security ministry.
The United States "has become the top destination for Chinese fugitives fleeing the law," the China Daily newspaper said, citing Liao Jinrong, director general of the ministry's International Cooperation Bureau.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made fighting pervasive graft a central theme and has warned, like others before him, that corruption threatens the Communist Party's survival.
Beijing has long grappled with the issue of so-called "naked officials" - government workers whose husbands, wives or children are all overseas - who use foreign family connections to illegally shift assets out of China or to avoid investigation. Some estimates put the number of Chinese officials and family members moving assets offshore at more than 1 million in the past five years.
But bringing these fugitives back to China isn't easy. There is no extradition treaty between China and the United States, and foreign governments have expressed reluctance to hand over Chinese suspects as they could face the death penalty in China.
"We face practical difficulties in getting fugitives who fled to the United States back to face trial due to the lack of an extradition treaty and the complex and lengthy procedures," the China Daily cited Liao as saying.
China's Public Security Ministry is trying to set up an annual high-level meeting with U.S. judicial authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security, the China Daily said, citing Wang Gang, a senior official at the International Cooperation Bureau.