China's Xi says will support Interpol raising its profile

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will support Interpol, raising the profile and leadership of the global police cooperation agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday at the opening of Interpol’s general assembly in Beijing, state media reported.

Last year, Interpol elected a senior Chinese public security official, Vice Public Security Minister Meng Hongwei, as its president, prompting rights groups to ask whether Beijing could try and use the position to go after dissidents abroad.

Xi said China’s stability was just as much its contribution to the world as its economic development, and that it firmly supported the international struggle against terrorism.

“China highly commends Interpol’s efforts to protect the world’s security and stability, and will continue to support Interpol to play an even more important role in global security governance,” the official Xinhua news agency cited Xi as saying.

Beijing has tried for many years to enlist the help of foreign countries to arrest and deport back to China suspected wanted for crimes including corruption and terrorism

Such requests have met resistance, particularly from Western countries where there have been concerns over whether evidence submitted by China met acceptable standards for Western courts. There were also worries that suspects might be mistreated and would not get a fair trial in China, and that allegations could be politically motivated.

In cross-border law-enforcement cooperation, Xi said, the laws of each country must be respected equally without “double standards”.

China’s Public Security Minister, Guo Shengkun, told the assembly that China hoped to use international police cooperation to strengthen its defense against the threat of militants returning from abroad to join groups like the East Turkistan Islamic Movement.

Rights groups have criticized China for misusing Interpol’s “red notice” system to target exiled Uighurs from Xinjiang, accusing them of terrorism, including Dolkun Isa, the general secretary of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress.

Interpol Secretary-General Juergen Stock, a German national, said the organization had “significantly increased” vetting of red notice requests from all 190 member countries and last year “99 per cent” complied with Interpol’s internal regulations.

Stock reiterated that red notices were not international arrest warrants but rather an “alert system” that enabled member countries to decide whether to take action “on the basis of their own legal assessment and situation”.

Reporting by Philip Wen, Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Michael Perry