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Senior Chinese public security official chosen as head of Interpol

A senior Chinese public security official has been elected as president of the global police cooperation agency Interpol, Chinese state media said on Thursday, in what could be a boost to Beijing’s domestic anti-graft efforts.

The state-run Xinhua news agency said Public Security Vice-Minister Meng Hongwei had been chosen for the post at the agency’s 85th members meeting, but did not give any further details.

The move hands China another leading spot on an international agency and could help its high-profile efforts to track down Chinese fugitive officials who have fled the country.

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China has worked with countries around the world and through the France-based global police organisation to chase down Chinese suspects as part of President Xi Jinping’s sweeping crackdown on corruption.

China issued an Interpol “red notice” two years ago, the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant, for its 100 most wanted corruption suspects who have fled overseas. It has said it has brought back at least one-third of them so far.

China has been seeking more international cooperation to hunt down suspected fugitives since Xi began the drive against deeply rooted graft about four years ago.

Western countries, however, have been reluctant to help, or to sign extradition treaties, not wanting to send people back to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of criminal suspects remains a problem.

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They also complain China is unwilling to provide proof of their crimes. Critics have also said Xi’s graft crackdown is as much about taking action against his political enemies as it is about going after corruption, accusations the government strongly denies.