A Chinese senior public security official is the new head of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).
Interpol says delegates at its 85th General Assembly in Bali, Indonesia elected China's Vice Public Security Minister, Meng Hongwei, as president.
“We currently face some of the most serious global public security challenges since World War II. … Interpol should continue to adhere to these principles and strategies, while further innovating our work mechanisms, in order to adapt to the changing security situation we see today,” Meng said.
China’s official Xinhua news agency reports that Hongwei is the first Chinese to hold the position. He is taking over from Mireille Ballestrazzi of France for a four-year term.
Human rights groups raised concerns about the Chinese official holding the post.
“We have looked at cases in the past where it seems that China has abused Interpol’s system to target particularly Uighur dissidents who, as far as we know, have committed no crime under international standards,” William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, told AFP.
Nee added that Meng’s position as head of the organization could potentially boost China’s campaign to capture alleged economic criminals, including officials living abroad who have been accused of corruption as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft operation.
Since becoming president in 2012, Xi has launched an extensive anti-corruption drive and China filed a list of 100 most-wanted suspects with Interpol in 2014.
“We attach high importance to the important role Interpol played in international law enforcement cooperation and would like to promote global law enforcement security [cooperation]. In this field, China is willing to take more responsibilities and make a bigger contribution,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
Interpol's constitution says “it is strictly forbidden for the organization to undertake any intervention of a political, military, religious or racial character.”
Meng is a veteran policeman and the agency said he has made “a significant contribution to promoting international police cooperation.”
China joined Interpol in 1984.
The next general assembly is scheduled to take place in Beijing in 2017. In 2018 officials will meet in Kampala, Uganda.