‘Trace the Money, Seize the Fugitives’ : China’s Other Anticorruption Battle

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationJournal of Contemporary China
Publication statusOnline published - 24 Jan 2022


Corrupt officials fleeing abroad with ill-gotten proceeds constitute a special challenge for the Chinese government. International cooperation to seize these fugitives often encounters roadblocks due to countries’ legal-political differences. By observing China’s burgeoning extraterritorial anti-corruption regime, this article proposes that an anti-money laundering (AML) mindset is being embraced to ‘seize the fugitives’ by ‘tracing the money’. This approach has three advantages: 1) de-complication by standardizing states’ practices and bypassing complexities inherent in orthodox means, 2) de-politicization by circumventing sensitive political concerns through pursuing fugitives and corrupt proceeds separately, and 3) leveling the playing field by rebalancing power between requested and requesting states. In-depth case studies combined with elite interviews reveal that this AML-oriented tactic has facilitated China’s capture of fugitives on foreign soils.

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