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Xi Jinping

Wider Interpol role for China good for the world

Beijing increasingly realises that effective law enforcement and security need a global platform and cooperation with other countries, for which the international police organisation is ideally suited

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 5:10am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 5:10am

Globalisation was made for transnational organised crime. For example, economic integration that boosts development and trade, such as China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, also opens up opportunities for criminal groups to develop and expand the illegal economy. Nations can safeguard legitimate economic activity, border security and law and order only through sharing intelligence and implementing reciprocal crime-fighting measures, including the return of criminal fugitives to face justice.

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So it is timely that as the leader of globalisation China should host Interpol’s general assembly, and that President Xi Jinping should make the opening speech. Xi highlighted the right of all nations to participate in regional and global security issues as opposed to traditional Western dominance of the Paris-based agency. To this end, China will sponsor training and tactical development under Interpol’s umbrella, including a police academy to train 20,000 officers for developing countries, plus Interpol communication systems and investigation laboratories in 100 developing nations.

As a target of cross-border crime such as phone scams run by offshore syndicates, China increasingly realises that effective law enforcement and security need a global platform and cooperation with other countries, for which Interpol is ideally suited. Ultimately, to achieve this, Beijing may have to consider measures to build trust with Western countries who are not comfortable with China’s justice system and a perceived lack of transparency.

An abiding external concern with China’s rise is that it is trying to change the world order. But Xi made clear in his Interpol speech that he is trying to use the existing platform to push China’s cause, rather than trying to set up a parallel international security framework.

Is China pushing Interpol for more help fighting terrorism, corruption?

Given the size of the Chinese delegation and the prominence accorded the Interpol assembly, it seems likely China will be pushing in the next few years to sign more rendition treaties with other countries for the return of fugitives. This is a reminder of the concerns of rights groups that China has tried to use Interpol to track down dissidents and political opponents. Last year, according to Xinhua, China requested Interpol issue 612 red notices – alerts circulated in member nations about criminals and crimes – and the official Legal Daily reported that in recent years the agency has issued about 200 notices annually at China’s request. If Interpol is to work effectively, there needs to be good law enforcement in all nations.

China’s expanded contribution reflects its wish to shoulder greater responsibilities and is good for the whole region and the world.