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China’s most-wanted economic fugitive Yang Xiuzhu surrenders

Yang Xiuzhu is escorted down a plane upon arriving at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing (Nov. 16, 2016)Image copyright
Xinhua

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Yang Xiuzhu arrived at Beijing airport on Wednesday

A woman who Beijing named as its most-wanted economic fugitive has returned to China after 13 years on the run.

Yang Xiuzhu is accused of embezzling more than $40m (£26m) when working as a public official.

Ms Yang, 70, was detained in the United States in 2014 after she tried to enter the country using a fake Dutch passport.

She is a high-profile target in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption.

Ms Yang handed herself over to Chinese authorities, according to China’s government watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Chinese state media said Ms Yang wanted to return to China for medical treatment, after feeling she had not received adequate care in the American prison system.

Image copyright
Interpol

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Yang Xiuzhu topped China’s most-wanted list of economic crime suspects living abroad

In April 2015, China released the names of 100 suspects wanted for economic crimes and said to be living abroad. Ms Yang was top of that list, with her details published on Interpol’s website.

Ms Yang amassed a fortune overseeing construction projects as deputy mayor of Wenzhou in eastern China in the 1990s, according to reports in state media.

She left her homeland in 2003 and went into hiding.

The US immigration agency had confirmed that Ms Yang was being held in a detention facility in New Jersey.

China has been pushing to establish an extradition treaty with the United States, but a US State Department spokesperson said, in October, that this was not under negotiation.

However the spokesperson, Anna Richey-Allen, also told Reuters that fugitives could be returned to countries without an extradition treaty, if carried out “within the bounds and protections afforded by our constitution and laws”.

The pursuit of Ms Yang is part of China’s Operation Sky Net, which targets officials accused of corruption and living abroad. It aims to confiscate misappropriated money and assets.