China's former most wanted fugitive urges others to turn themselves in
By Yang Haijing
China has kept up its great efforts in fighting corruption in recent years. Skynet, built in 2015 to net corrupt fugitives living overseas, has seen 4,997 fugitives returned to China from over 120 countries and regions. Among them, 54 were on the list of China's hundred most-wanted suspects, all of whom had Interpol Red Notices for them.
Yang Xiuzhu, 73, was China's most-wanted graft fugitive. The former public official in eastern China was called the "queen of corruption." She was accused of embezzling a sum equivalent to some 40 million U.S. dollars from construction projects.
She once asserted she would rather die in the U.S. than come back to China. But after 13 years on the run, she finally surrendered to her homeland in 2016.
After she was sentenced to eight years in prison, she said she would take the blame for her actions. She also advised those on the run like her to return to China as the country had treated her with respect despite her position at the top of the Red Warrant list.
Yang fled in 2003 and then lived in places like Singapore, France, Italy and the Netherlands. She recalled this as an extremely lonely time in her life. She said she even worked in local Chinese restaurants so she could speak with people from her homeland
In 2014, Yang illegally entered the U.S. using a fake Dutch passport. But authorities were on to her and eventually she spent nearly two years in prison there before she finally gave up her efforts to seek asylum.
She said those who live in China would never imagine the pain she went through outside and again asked the fugitives to turn themselves in as there's no need to run.
There's no need to run, and there's no room to run. Since China's 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Beijing has been working ever harder to crack down on graft.
Chinese President Xi Jinping ranks corruption as the biggest threat to the Party, declaring a zero-tolerance policy in dealing with it. Xi has guaranteed to Chinese nationals that no matter where the corrupt officials flee, they must be brought to justice.