Apec agrees network to share information on corruption – BBC News 8 November 2014 Last updated at 05:24 ET

Countries of Asia and the Pacific region have agreed to set up a network to share information on corruption.

President Xi Jinping delivers a speech in Bucharest on 19 October 2009

President Xi has promised to go after suspected corrupt officials who have fled abroad

Apec members said in a statement that the purpose of the agreement, proposed by China, was to deny safe haven to anyone engaged in corruption.

It comes amid efforts by Chinese President Xi Jinping to clamp down on corrupt officials, including those who try to escape abroad.

Apec leaders are expected to back the deal at a summit in Beijing next week.

US Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the move as a “major step forward”.

“Corruption not only creates an unfair playing field, it not only distorts economic relationships, but corruption also steals from the people of every country the belief that the system can work for everybody,” he told journalists.

Extradition concerns

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) group statement said it had set up the Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies (ACT-NET).

The network commits its 21 member states to “deny safe haven to those engaged in corruption, including through extradition, mutual legal assistance and the recovery and return of proceeds of corruption”.

It will also “establish measures and systems to protect whistleblowers”.

Officials say that the proposal was initiated by China and backed by the US.

But correspondents say it is not clear how the agreement will work between countries that do not have bilateral extradition treaties.

The US, Canada and Australia – all seen as friendly to Chinese emigrants – have no extradition treaties with China because of concerns about capital punishment and the alleged use of torture in the Chinese judicial system.

China is currently involved in a huge campaign to root out corruption at all levels of society.

More than 13,000 Chinese officials were found guilty of corruption and bribery in the first nine months of 2014 alone.

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Angela Merkel Is Very Angry – By Fred Kaplan JULY 11 2014 4:25 PM

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the U.S. to know that she’s serious.
Photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

Her reaction may be purely theatrical, but the crisis it’s sown is serious. After discovering that an official in her intelligence service had been selling documents to the Americans (this in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency intercepts of her cellphone conversations), Merkel expelled the CIA’s station chief in Berlin—an extraordinary action, rarely taken even by enemies and almost never by friends.

Merkel, a shrewd politician with East German roots, is surely aware of the hypocrisy going on, especially since she first expressed her shock while hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose cyberspying in all realms, against all countries, matches and in some cases exceeds the NSA’s. (Reciprocating Xi’s visit, Merkel is now in China on a trade expedition.)

As James Kirchick, a Berlin-based journalist, writes in the Daily Beast, “Ever since its postwar rebirth as the divided city at the geographic and intellectual heart of the Cold War, Berlin has been a nest of spies.” The nest still thrives. If you were looking for a single spot to spy on Russians, Muslim jihadists, Iranians (including Western businesses doing illicit business with Iran), and carriers of intel on just about every threat worth watching on the planet, Berlin is your place—and the choice locales include the parliament and ministries. This is well known.

Apparently, in this latest case, the German intel official wasn’t recruited by Americans; rather, he approached them and offered caches of confidential documents for a fee. The American spies paid him a bit, for a while; when he turned useless, they threw him away. He then offered his services to the Russians—at which point German counterintelligence officers, who were routinely spying on Russian officials in their country (the shock! the horror!), saw what he was doing and arrested him. (It was then that he revealed his American connection.)

Is it shocking that we were paying a greedy fool to spy for us? No, most people who betray their country for money aren’t very bright. Is it contemptible that we took the offer to begin with? Well, this is what spies in a foreign country do—they spy on the foreign country. And it’s hard to turn away an asset who shows up at your doorway.