US Returns Criminal Suspect To China

The US returned a fugitive to China Thursday, the Ministry of Public Security said, in what appears to be the first such instance of cooperation between the two countries since the election of Donald Trump.

The suspect, referred to only by the last name Zhu, was repatriated with the assistance of US immigration authorities, the statement said, and is accused of a “violation of personal rights”, which can include an array of crimes ranging from murder to assault to kidnapping.

State broadcaster CCTV showed live footage of Zhu arriving on the tarmac in Beijing. The suspect descended from a United Airlines plane wearing a black hood and was handed over to a group of Chinese policemen by US immigration authorities.

Upon alighting, Zhu was asked to sign and fingerprint a document as photographers snapped pictures of the handover.

The suspect fled China to the US on April 4, 2016, according to the ministry’s statement. Upon learning of the alleged crime, authorities issued an Interpol red notice for Zhu, who was picked up by US immigration authorities in January for overstaying a visa.

Zhu’s return was the “first result” of the April meeting between Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the statement added. The US Embassy in Beijing did not respond to multiple attempts to seek comment.

China has pursued fugitives abroad as part of a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that began under Xi. But its tactics, which are alleged to include the intimidation of suspects on foreign soil, have led to reprimands from other governments.

The US and China do not have an extradition treaty, but Washington has returned criminal suspects to the country in the past. Washington has returned individuals to China using immigration proceedings over the years.

China is currently seeking the extradition of a number of other alleged criminals from the US, including billionaire real estate developer Guo Wengui on corruption charges.

In April Beijing issued an Interpol red notice for Guo, who has lived abroad since leaving China two years ago and is frequently in the US.

Relations between the US and China got off to a rocky start when Trump took office, but have smoothed out as Washington seeks help from Beijing in reining in an unruly North Korea.

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