Author:Li Hong Xing
Position:Department of Law, BPP University, London, UK
China’s pursuit of suspect wealth – an opportunity for co-operation
China has had anti-corruption laws for the past 3,000 years. It was also one of the earliest
countries to enact laws prohibiting insider dealing by ofcials. History also records a
number of cases where laws relating to integrity have been robustly enforced. On the
other hand, corruption appears to have been and remains a persistent issue in China.
Since the opening of the Chinese economy, there is a perception, which may or may not
be a reality that the opportunities for self-dealing and corruption have increased
dramatically. Of course, given the development of China’s rather special market
economy, the scope and nature of self-dealing has changed. The pursuit of wealth has
also arguably encouraged an attitude which more readily lends itself to abuse. President
Hu Jin Tao on a number of occasions gave voice to the concern within the leadership that
the opening of the economy might be undermined by greed and corruption. China’s
nancial markets, which are characterised by a high level of personal speculations, are
considered particularly vulnerable to insider dealing and manipulation. The Chinese
Communist Party also expressed concern that the traditional mechanisms of
governance, which in a large measure were based on the Party’s inuence if not control,
were perhaps not as effective as they had been.
The initiative to address these concerns started by President Hu Jin Tao has been
signicantly developed by his successor President Xi Jinping. China’s current
anti-corruption drive has been dramatic and far-reaching. A number of leading ofcials,
including those of ministerial rank, have been caught in its net and the caution that is
now being exercised by those in business and government is noticeable. The
excesses which have been increasingly visible in Chinese society are now far less
obvious. Ofcials are far more cautious in manifesting their life styles. In large measure,
the trust of this important initiative has been due to the Party and in particular its
disciplinary committees. Within the Chinese system, the inuence of the Communist
Party is pervasive and extends over all levels of society. However, those who are directly
subject to its authority have been placed under surveillance and monitoring. Ofcials of
the Party have focussed their attention on unexplained wealth and subjected those who
have aroused suspicion to examination. The Party does not, however, have legal powers
and prosecutions are the responsibility of the Procuratorate. There have been tensions
and some have expressed concern that those who have been subjected to Party
discipline have not always been punished in accordance with the ordinary criminal law.
Having said this, the Party’s procedures have been seen to be both effective and efcient.
There are instances, however, particularly in regards to the tracing of property where
judicial powers are necessary. While there has been a great deal of cooperation between
prosecutors and the Party’s ofcials, there has been a reluctance to “share” the
jurisdiction. The tensions that have arisen between the “administrative system” and the
ordinary criminal justice system have increasingly attracted comment, and the
Government is currently exploring how best to resolve this. It is likely that in the near
future China will in fact establish a national anti-corruption agency which can utilise the
powers of both the systems.
In addressing corruption, the Procuratorate has increasingly looked to utilise
anti-money laundering laws. The amount of suspect wealth that has been “frozen” in
Journalof Money Laundering
Vol.20 No. 3, 2017
©Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JMLC-04-2017-0015

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