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High-level US-China Talks Focus on Immigration, Fugitives


FILE - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Aug. 4, 2017. Sessions led the U.S. side of talks with China on law enforcement and cybersecurity.

Shilan Zhao, former wife of fugitive Chinese official Jianjun Qiao, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges by the U.S. government of conspiring to commit immigration fraud related to the EB5 “investor” visa program.

Zhao agreed to forfeit millions of dollars’ worth of several properties in the United States and to cooperate with the investigation on Qiao, who is wanted by the Chinese government on corruption charges. Qiao escaped to the U.S. with Chinese public funds.

But there are other fugitives from China living in the United States, some connected to Beijing’s elite, who have so far been outside the reach of Chinese law enforcement.

Law enforcement cooperation

To try to bridge differences, the two countries hold regular dialogues. In recent months, Washington and Beijing have been working to increase cooperation on law enforcement, repatriations, counter-narcotics, counterterrorism and combating cybercrime.

FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrive for a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrive for a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

On Wednesday, the U.S. and China held a high-level, bilateral Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Dialogue, one of four such meetings agreed to by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April.

The high-level talks also addressed disagreements between the two countries with frank discussions on immigration and fugitives.

U.S. officials had lodged complaints that Beijing is not making enough effort to repatriate illegal Chinese immigrants staying in the United States. Washington also protested that some Chinese security officials used visitor visas to enter the U.S. while conducting official business or attempting to repatriate Chinese fugitives.

Billionaire businessman Guo Wengui speaks during an interview in New York City, April 30, 2017.
Billionaire businessman Guo Wengui speaks during an interview in New York City, April 30, 2017.

Billionaire’s allegations

Meanwhile, Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire wanted by Beijing, is scheduled to hold a news conference in Washington Thursday to discuss high-level corruption in China’s ruling elite.

Guo has made allegations of massive corruption within the highest levels of the Communist party.

Chinese prosecutors are building a sprawling case against the New York-based real estate tycoon, who is being investigated in at least 19 major criminal cases. Allegations against him include bribing a top Chinese intelligence official, kidnapping, rape, fraud and money laundering.

On Twitter, he dismissed the allegations from China, calling the “red notice” by Interpol “suicidal behavior coming from truly corrupt officials who fear I will expose their crimes.”

Sources told VOA that Beijing is seeking help from the U.S. to repatriate Guo, who is seeking political asylum in the U.S.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told VOA she did not know if discussion of Guo’s case came up in Wednesday’s meeting.

“[Department of] Justice and Homeland Security have the lead on that one,” Nauert said.

High-level talks

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke co-chaired Wednesday’s dialogue on the U.S. side, with Guo Shengkun, state councilor and minister of public security, on the Chinese side.

Nauert said of Wednesday’s meeting: “Consistent with the results-oriented approach of this administration’s policy toward China, the dialogue facilitated forthright and detailed discussions, and resulted in bilateral cooperation on priority issues, including immigration.”

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