This past spring, the United States Department of Justice released a press release discussing two illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government being charged for a PRC-directed bribery scheme. The press release states that John Chen, a Los Angeles resident and former citizen of the PRC, and Lin Feng, a Los Angeles resident and PRC citizen, allegedly furthered the PRC government’s transnational repression campaign against the Falun Gong by bribing a purported IRS official.

This failed scheme exposes China’s capacity for corruption and leads one to question China’s role in INTERPOL as a member country. China’s history of human rights abuses and violations of its obligations to INTERPOL make it necessary to examine the ways in which Chinese officials can abuse their power within INTERPOL.

As stated in a Euronews article by my able colleagues Ben Keith and Rhys Davies:

 “By issuing Red Notices via the Interpol system, some of the world’s dictators and worst human rights abusers have been able to weaponize police forces in countries where they would normally have no influence.”

China has repeatedly proven its tolerance for corruption both within and outside of INTERPOL. Chinese authorities have often used Red Notices to harass and extradite people being improperly charged by the Chinese Government.

Just one example

One example of China’s corrupt use of the Red Notice system is found in the case of Chinese dissident Chuan Liang Li, discussed here with his permission, after Estlund Law successfully applied for the removal of his politically motivated Red Notice.  Following Mr. Li’s exposure of corruption within the Chinese Communist Party(CCP), The PRC requested a Red Notice in his name. In response to Mr. Li’s public criticism of Chinese authorities, the CCP filed charges in China against him, accusing him of  “embezzling large amounts of state-owned funds and accepting bribes” twenty years earlier. 

Subsequently, members of Mr. Li’s family were arrested and told that their arrest was due to Mr. Li’s public criticism of Chinese authorities. His former colleagues and friends were also arrested, interrogated, and tortured.

Unfortunately, Mr. Li’s case is not at all unusual, and such violations are well-documented.


China’s further disregard for its obligations to INTERPOL is obvious in its practice of Liuzhi, or  “retention in custody.” Under Liuzhi, which has been in practice since 2018, anyone related to the CCP can be secretly investigated and detainees can reportedly be denied access to legal counsel or families for as long as six months. 

Next time: an in depth explanation of why these actions harm INTERPOL, and how INTERPOL might respond. 

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.