It’s been 12 years since Yang Xiuzhu, the former deputy mayor of Wenzhou, escaped China after being accused of embezzling 253.2 million yuan—and now she might finally be returning to the motherland.
Yang, who was arrested in the Netherlands in 2005 but escaped detention in May 2014 after being rejected for political asylum, fled to Canada then to the US where she was detained last May by Immigration and Customs Enforcement while attempting to enter the country with a fake Dutch passport.
The US is considering deporting Yang on visa-related violations, according to reports.
“Ms. Yang is in custody pending removal to China, for violating the terms of the Visa Waiver Program,” Luis M. Martinez, spokesman of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told WSJ.
If Yang, who currently sits at the top of China’s 100 most-wanted fugitive list, does get deported, it would be seen as a major sign of cooperation between the US and China in terms of international law enforcement.
The list is part of “Operation Sky Net”—the latest effort in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive. Xi reportedly mentioned Yang during his visit with US President Barack Obama after learning that 40 of the 100 suspected criminals on the list are hiding in the US.
China is one of the 38 countries with which the US has no extradition treaty, which has prevented Yang’s return thus far.
Of the 253.2 million yuan that Yang had amassed, 42.4 million yuan has been returned to the government.
By Sharon Choi