Over 5,000 Chinese suspects of economic crimes fleeing overseas apprehended from over 100 countries and regions: Ministry

More than 5,000 Chinese suspects of economic crimes fleeing overseas have been caught and arrested from over 100 countries and regions by the public security organs across the country since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), according to China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

A symposium on economic crime investigation work was recently held by the MPS in Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province, to emphasize the improvement of the public security organs’ professional investigative capabilities and outline the modernization of economic crime investigation work, thepaper.cn reported on Monday.

According to the meeting, since the 19th National Congress of the CPC, public security organs across the country have solved 467,000 cases of various economic crimes, recovering direct economic losses of more than 280 billion yuan ($39.28 billion), apprehended more than 5,000 suspects of economic crimes fleeing overseas from more than 100 countries and regions, and collaborated with the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the National Commission of Supervision to apprehend 14 individuals among the 100 fugitives on Interpol’s Red Notice.

According to meeting notes, nationwide public security economic crime investigation work has consolidated outstanding achievements in combatting against crimes, preventing risks, maintaining stability, and serving the development of other sectors.

The meeting urged to further improve the investigation work, improve the quality of the public security investigative teams, enhance investigative efficiency and deepen the understanding of the rules of public security economic crime investigation work in the new era.

The meeting noted that economic crime investigation work has to be further developed with innovation and the help of big data, to improve technical capabilities.

The work has to focus on cracking down on counterfeit currency, cards, invoices, money laundering, tax-related crimes, securities-related crimes, crimes in finance, and other key areas, to continuously improve the fight against crime.

The discipline of the public security investigative team has to be constantly strengthened to improve the professionalism and capability of the team, according to the meeting.

Earthquake death toll reaches 134

The death toll caused by the devastating earthquake that rattled Northwest China Monday night reached 134 as of Wednesday press time - 113 in Gansu Province and 21 in Qinghai Province. Rescue work is drawing to an end, and the focus will now turn to the treatment of the injured and the resettlement of those affected, Gansu authorities said at a press conference on Wednesday.

At present, more than 87,000 people have been temporarily evacuated and resettled in safe places, Gansu officials said at the press conference, revealing that 14,939 houses collapsed and 207,204 more were damaged during the quake, affecting 145,736 people.

A total of 78 trapped individuals have been rescued, with 6,653 people evacuated as of 6:00 am on Wednesday. Additionally, 360 tents have been set up, 683 hazardous areas have been cleared, and 47 tons of supplies have arrived at the disaster-stricken sites.

Several shelters were erected overnight in both Gansu and Qinghai. When the Global Times reporters visited shelters in Dahe village of Gansu Province and Jintian village of Qinghai Province, earthquake victims were living in tents newly set up.

"Every tent is equipped with electricity and stoves to keep us warm. We have food and material pouring in from all over the country. We don't need anything now," 54-year-old Li, who lives in Jintian village, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Vegetables, meat, bread and hot soup were served as lunch on Wednesday in the Jintian village shelter. When the food was ready, people in the tents waited patiently. "We let the PLA soldiers eat first. They helped us a lot," said Li.

Li Kai, an officer from the PLA's Western Theater Command, told the Global Times on Tuesday night that he helped transfer the victims and move their belongings, such as furniture and livestock. "Some of those people are not rich so we are doing what we can to reduce their losses."

After 10 hours of nonstop efforts, all damaged roads and highways leading to the disaster area, especially near the epicenter, were cleared and reopened, including all 24 severely damaged rural roads, so that relief and supply vehicles were able to access impacted communities, the Gansu transport bureau said at the press conference.

All routes within the Lanzhou Railway Bureau, which had been delayed significantly due to the impact of the earthquake, also resumed normal operations on Wednesday morning.

Damage to the main power grid in earthquake-stricken areas of Gansu and Qinghai had been fully repaired as of Tuesday evening, according to the State Grid Gansu Electric Power Company.

A total of 423 aftershocks have been recorded as of 8 am Wednesday, including 10 aftershocks measuring 3.0 magnitude or higher.

The China Geological Survey organized 33 experts to rush to the disaster-stricken areas in Gansu and Qinghai provinces on Wednesday. The working groups will cooperate with the emergency management departments and local governments to carry out on-site geological disaster investigation and surveys, aerial drone surveys, monitoring and early warning tasks, risk assessment and emergency disposal of hazardous material.

They will also conduct seismic analysis and research on the earthquake and submit materials for disaster relief use.

The strong earthquake triggered various secondary disasters. In Minhe county, Qinghai, which borders the epicenter in Jishishan county, two villages experienced sand boils shortly after the earthquake. A significant number of houses were buried and washed away by mudslides, resulting in 16 individuals going missing. Following the incident, the Qinghai Provincial Fire Rescue Team swiftly organized overnight rescue operations.

The houses of 36 families, totaling 177 villagers, were destroyed by sand boils in Jintian village, and 13 individuals are still missing, including a pregnant woman. A firefighter on-site told the Global Times that after overnight search and rescue efforts, as of Wednesday morning, four bodies had been discovered.

When asked why usually dry areas such as Jintian village, which is also far away from rivers and has seen no rainfall, suffered such a severe landslide, Wang Tun, head of a key earthquake early warning laboratory in China's Sichuan Province, told the Global Times that after a strong earthquake, due to the shaking of the Earth's crust, water-saturated sand and soil deep underground undergo a phenomenon called liquefaction. This liquefied sand layer is then forced through certain channels and reaches the surface directly.

A rescue worker at the scene told the Global Times that rescue work in Jintian village has been difficult as the mud makes it impossible for workers to walk, and a floating bridge made of wooden planks must be used to enter the location. Moreover, when excavating the soil, the mud flows like liquid. "Whenever you remove a spoonful of it, it immediately fills up again. There is simply no way to carry out rescue efforts."

The rescue worker said he and his teammate pulled an all-nighter on Tuesday night. "We switched shifts every two hours because the night was freezing at sub-zero temperatures."

First Chinese female 100-meter freediver explains the sport in her eyes

What does it feel like to dive 100 meters deep under the surface of the ocean with one breath? "The hydrostatic pressure will be 11 times than that a person feels on the ground," Xu Tongtong, Chinese freediver and the country's record breaker, told the Global Times in a recent interview.

A person now titled with two record-breaking champions, the 35-year-old Xu is now the first woman of China reaching 100 meters under the sea level in history, after she claimed a gold in Constant weight (CWT) freediving discipline in Asian Freediving Cup in the Philippines in June.

The win of her first 100-meter try gave her courage. 

During July, in another competition she participated in AIDA Panglao Depth Championship in Bohol Island, the Philippines, Xu finished her another 100-meter challenge in the Constant weight bi-fins (CWTB) depth discipline, ranking second place in the world.

"If we compare the 100 meters to the height of a building, it means we are about to jump from the 30th floor to the ground and then climb back to the roof top, with one breath," Xu added. "I feel so happy when I touched and grabbed the tab underwater. 

This was a goal I set for myself three years ago, and I feel nice that the world can see the efforts we made as Chinese freediving athletes," she told the Global Times in an interview on the phone at her home in the Philippines.

The two records Xu set pushed China to reach the next level: Since then the depth record of Chinese women in freediving has entered the 100-meter level.

'First try'

Xu now lives in Boho Island, an area covering an area of 3,269 kilometers and known as top island in the Philippines.

The Boho Island has been boasting its hospitality of the freediving lovers. And it is also among the most popular freediving destinations in the country where international competitions are often held here.

But for Xu, the place means much more than a freediving heaven, as both of the two competitions she participated in with record breaking also took place here in Boho Island.

June's competition is her first ever try in challenging 100 meters freediving. "I made it," recalled Xu. "That was an unprecedented experience for me as I remembered my smile as I swam up out of the surface." 

Before heading to the competition, she undergone a three-month systematic training where her coach developed a training program cut out for her. 

"There were different proportions I needed to devote to in including the physical training and muscle training."

Based on her training plan, the last training Xu had the free diving reached 98 meters under the water. "By two meters deeper during each try, I would reach 100 meters by the time of my competition day."

"This needs a stable state of mind. If you're nervous you fail, but if you're not you win," Xu added.

Explaining the trick of the sport, Xu said that it is the opposite of the others as one needs to calm her/him down to be "as stable as possible in order to slow down the heart rate, which is essential to reduce the oxygen consumption."

A yearn for ocean

Born in Anhui, a landlocked province in East China, the 35-year-old free diver has a nickname Mutou, translated as wood often known by her friends. She also named her social media atlas after Mutou.

She believed in the flexibility of the wood as "a piece of wood can be carved into anything you want. And I wish I can have the quality just as the wood."

Xu started her swimming training as early as 8. Being a professional swimmer, Xu has participated in a string of competitions nationwide, where she won second place as her best result. 

Xu's free diving enlightenment came from a video she accidentally came across on social media. As early as 2012, when she saw the famous French freediving champion Guillaume Néry "flying" in the ocean.

"Normally we swim horizontally, but I never try swimming vertically. And I decided to have a try."

From 2012 to 2017, Xu has traveled to islands across the world for freediving, where she would immerse in the enjoyment the ocean brought her.

"If we carry gas cylinders, the bubbles that pop out will keep those sea creatures from approaching us. We are just 'guests' in the ocean, and in the ocean, we are so small," said Xu.

In the years of her career in ocean, she also received help from Israeli freediving legend Aharon Solomons, who she met in China when the later traveled there for freediving classes.

According to Solomons, freediving is a kind of sport that requires intelligence, commitments and common sense, where he believed that Xu has all of them. 

Among many sports, freediving can be dangerous, but "she has been outstanding," Solomons told the Global Times in an interview.

"I also feel honored that he coached me during my entering stage of the sport, and I've never experienced from a single injury," Xu recalled her experience when learning from Solomons.

Now in Israel, Solomons is still preparing for more competitions as he told the Global Times.