The FBI, America's federal police agency, says it is seeking increased cooperation with its Chinese counterparts, and is offering the Chinese assistance for the 2008 Olympic games. An FBI official says one obstacle to cooperation is the lack of an extradition treaty, making repatriation of wanted individuals from one country to the other more difficult. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.
FBI Assistant Director For International Operations Thomas Fuentes says the FBI's global reach in intelligence gathering could be of great use to China as it prepares to host the 2008 Olympic games.
"When the Olympics occur here next year, you are going to have an unprecedented number of foreign visitors enter this country," he said. "So, this is a massive challenge for the authorities in China to deal with. We are offering every possible assistance to them in terms of the information sharing or other technical assistance."
Fuentes is in China to try to enhance cooperation with China's FBI equivalent, the Ministry of Public Security. He told reporters the two agencies are cooperating on a number of cases, but a lack of an extradition treaty - which allows suspects to be sent from one country to another - makes it more difficult to bring criminals to justice.
"If you have a treaty, you have an established legal mechanism to return people from one country to another to face trial," said Fuentes. "Or, if they have already been tried, to go back for sentencing or jail. And, in this case we do not have that. We work to the extent we can to try to bring these people to justice anyway."
Fuentes says he is satisfied the Chinese are doing all they can, within legal limitations, to help the United States retrieve wanted criminals from China through other means, such as deportation or revocation of travel documents.
But regarding the FBI's top priority, terrorism, he said he would like to see more information coming from the Chinese.
Fuentes says the FBI is still assessing the validity of the Chinese government's claims that an international terrorist threat exists in its northwestern Xinjiang Province.
Beijing says separatists from the region's Uighur ethnic minority, a Muslim group, have links to international terrorism. But the Chinese have produced little evidence of organized terrorist activity in Xinjiang, and human rights organizations say the Chinese government is using terrorism as an excuse to tighten control over religious and ethnic minorities.
Fuentes says China's enormous economic growth has also provided opportunities for organized crime, which he says now stretches into global networks dealing in everything from counterfeit products to narcotics to human smuggling.