Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed on Friday that the agency is cooperating with the Chinese authorities in hunting down corrupt Chinese officials who fled the country and settled in Australia.
In a statement sent to Xinhua, an AFP spokesman confirmed earlier media reports that the two countries are in cooperation in this respect and AFP will take actions in Australia on China's behalf.
"The AFP cooperates with Chinese authorities in assisting to trace and restrain illicit assets in Australia on behalf of Chinese authorities," the spokesman said.
Earlier this week, Australian media had quoted AFP's Asian coordinator Bruce Hill as saying that the agency and their Chinese counterparts will take action in coming weeks.
Hill told Fairfax media that Australia has agreed to assist China in the extradition and seizure of assets of corrupt officials who have fled to Australia with illicit funds running into the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.
Hill said Australia had been identified by Beijing as one of the most popular outlets for corrupt Chinese money and a number of the suspects are naturalized Australian citizens and permanent residents who have laundered money.
The AFP spokesman also said in the statement that the agency " has previously successfully restrained and confiscated proceeds of crime from Chinese economic fugitives".
In response to the reports, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China welcomed Australian help in cracking down on corruption.
"China has signed treaties with 63 countries, including Australia, in judicial assistance and extradition," Hua told a regular news briefing.
China hopes to cooperate with Australia and other relevant countries to chase fugitives and illegal gains and fight against corruption, she said.
"The Chinese government is resolute in fighting against corruption and chasing fugitives and illegal assets overseas. Corrupt officials should be brought to justice wherever they flee, " Hua said.
It is believed that even without a bilateral extradition treaty, the Attorney-General of Australia can consider extradition requests for offenses under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to which Australia and China are both parties.
"AFP and the Chinese Ministry Public Security continue to strengthen their relationship, through high level executive meetings to enhance bilateral cooperation on money laundering, remitters and economic fugitives," the AFP statement said.
It is known to Xinhua that both countries are promoting to include a police attache at the Chinese embassy in Australia to better coordinate with relevant agencies in Australia, including the AFP.