As crime increasingly transcends borders due to rapidly expanding globalisation and technological developments, there is a greater need for international police cooperation in effectively combatting transnational crime. We take a look at the most significant recent developments impacting the collaboration between Australia and China in cross-border criminal investigations.
September 2017 – two new agreements signed
On 26 September 2017, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) signed two new arrangements with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS) relating to targeting transnational crime impacting Australia and China.
A Statement of Intent on combatting transnational crime and enhancing police cooperation was signed by AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin and MPS Vice Minister Meng Qingfeng, as was a Joint Agency Arrangement on economic crime cooperation.
“The AFP has a long history of law enforcement cooperation in China and today’s events are part of our long-term commitment to working with the Ministry of Public Security to tackle issues of mutual concern and cooperate in innovative ways,” said Commissioner Colvin during a visit to Beijing.
The visit was also used as an opportunity to formally return AU$215,000 that was forfeited in Australia as proceeds of crime, after it was unlawfully removed from China, sending a clear message that Australia will not tolerate criminals seeking to hide illegally-obtained assets.
The Statement of Intent on combating transnational crime and enhancing police cooperation provides a framework to formalise future law enforcement cooperation on a range of crime types that have the potential to affect the security of both Australia and China.
The Joint Agency Arrangement formalises a joint working group between MPS, AFP and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, aimed at further cooperating on law enforcement, particularly on transnational economic crime. The working group is the first of its kind with China and aims to strengthen cooperation on combatting economic crime and money-laundering, as well as identify and restrain assets suspected to be the proceeds of crime in both countries.
December 2018 – the renewal of Taskforce Blaze
On 13 December, 2018, the AFP also announced the renewal of Taskforce Blaze until 2020. This Taskforce was formed in 2015, and has yielded significant results to date with more than 20 tonnes of narcotics and precursor chemicals cumulatively seized.
AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin, who travelled to China for the signing, said “Taskforce Blaze has had a number of successful prosecutions in Australia which could not have been possible without the inclusion of Chinese evidence comprising drug samples, forensic reports and testimony from Chinese Police officers.”
“It will build upon the existing intelligence sharing arrangements and further strengthen the cooperation, and abilities of law enforcement in the region to eradicate the source of drugs and obstruct ice trafficking channels.”
Mr. Colvin further elaborated on the level of collaboration between Australia and China facilitated through the Taskforce:
“We have exchanged intelligence, conducted expanded joint operations and made significant breakthroughs in eradicating drug sources, interdicting trafficking channels, arresting drug traffickers, dismantling drug syndicates, and confiscating drug funds. This taskforce has become a role model for law enforcement and mutual legal assistance”.