China has been told that if it wants to bring its fugitives home from the US, it needs to go through proper channels and not send undercover agents on tourist visas to put pressure on them. The Obama administration has warned Beijing about the use of covert agents in the US as part of its anti-corruption campaign, reports the New York Times. Officials tell the Times that as part of what Beijing has dubbed Operation Fox Hunt, teams of agents have been sent to find "economic fugitives" living in the US and persuade them to return to China, using methods including threatening children or grandchildren who are still in the country.
An expert at the University of Nottingham's China Policy Institute tells the Times that the use of covert agents to pressure people abroad has a long history under the Chinese Communist Party, which he says see itself as ruling all Chinese people, no matter if they live abroad or have foreign passports. "The party believes if you're of Chinese ancestry then you're Chinese anyway, and if you don't behave like one you're a traitor," he says. The warning on Chinese agents comes weeks before President Xi Jinping visits the US, reports Voice of America, which notes that the US and China have no formal extradition treaty and bringing one in might be on the agenda during Xi's state visit.