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Copies of a booklet from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the ruling Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog, is seen on a table during their news conference in Beijing, China, January 15, 2016.REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China faces a tough task in tracking down fugitives and recovering stolen assets from abroad, a senior graft-buster said, launching a campaign to catch corrupt officials who have fled overseas and recover their ill-gotten assets.

China has been trying to get increased international cooperation to hunt down suspected corrupt officials who have fled overseas since President Xi Jinping began a war against deeply-rooted graft more than three years ago.

But Western countries have been reluctant to help, not wanting to send people back to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of criminal suspects remains a problem, and also complaining China is unwilling to provide proof of their crimes.

"The mission of opposing corruption to track down and get back officials and assets internationally is very hard," Huang Shuxian, deputy head of the graft-busting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, was quoted as saying in a statement released by the body late on Thursday.

He gave no details.

Huang was speaking at meeting to coordinate "Sky Net 2016", the follow-up to a campaign launched last year to recover suspected corrupt officials and their ill-gotten assets overseas.

Several different agencies are involved in the task.

The central bank will work with the Ministry of Public Security to go after money laundering via offshore companies and underground banks, the commission said.

Authorities will also clamp down harder on overseas trips made by officials using illegal documents, it added.

Huang said efforts should be stepped up to ensure "corrupt elements" are brought back to face justice and have no place to hide.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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