SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese police repatriated a fugitive from France for the first time since the two countries signed an extradition treaty which came into effect in 2015, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua said.

The suspect surnamed Chen, who was detained by French police in October, is accused of taking public funds of more than 20 million yuan ($3 million) without authorization, said Xinhua, citing police from the city of Ruian in Zhejiang province.

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, or sign extradition treaties, 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.

Beijing has vowed to pursue an overseas search dubbed Operation "Fox Hunt" for corrupt officials and business executives, and their assets.

($1 = 6.6700 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting By Nathaniel Taplin; Editing by Michael Perry)