China names high-profile law enforcer working with US in fentanyl fight as assistant public security minister

China has promoted a veteran police officer who oversees cooperation with the US in the fight against fentanyl as assistant public security minister.

The promotion of Hu Binchen, the 53-year-old director of the International Cooperation Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, to assistant minister rank and as member of the ministry’s Communist Party committee, was announced by the State Council, China’s cabinet, on Tuesday.

The ministry also promoted Liu Zhongyi, 59, director of its Criminal Investigation Bureau, to the same position, according to the announcement.

The promotion of Hu, who is widely regarded as the international face of China’s security forces, came as China and the United States renewed bilateral law enforcement and security engagement following an ice-breaking summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his United States counterpart Joe Biden in San Francisco in November.


Unravelling China’s role in the US fentanyl crisis

Unravelling China’s role in the US fentanyl crisis

In January, Hu was among two Chinese officials who jointly launched the US-China Counternarcotics Working Group during a visit to Beijing by the US deputy assistant to the president and deputy homeland security adviser Jen Daskal.
Hu first caught the attention of the international press in November 2021 when he won one of two seats representing Asia on Interpol ’s executive committee, despite campaigns by international human rights groups and lawmakers who alleged human rights abuses in China. At the time, Hu was the deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security’s international cooperation bureau.
It came three years after China’s former Interpol president Meng Hongwei – who was then Hu’s senior at the ministry – disappeared during a trip back to China in 2018, halfway through his term heading the global body.

Hu holds a master’s degree in criminology from the University of Cambridge and has spent his career working on China’s international police cooperation, according to his official resume.

He served as police counsellor at the Chinese embassy in the US around 2014 after serving as director of the US and Oceania Division of the public security ministry’s International Cooperation Bureau.

The appointment comes as a growing number of Chinese illegal immigrants are passing through the US-Mexico border, a development Beijing has pledged to crack down on.

China and US vow closer cooperation in fighting America’s fentanyl crisis

Responding to questions on US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell’s remarks that a large number of Chinese “economic migrants” headed to the US in recent months was “gathering concern”, Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Mao Ning said on Wednesday, “China opposes and firmly cracks down on all forms of illegal migration”.

Liu Zhongyi is a highly decorated crime buster in China from northeastern Heilongjiang province. He was transferred to the Ministry of Public Security’s Criminal Investigation Bureau in 2011 after decades working in his home province’s police force.

There, he helped to solve unsolved murder cases, in particular a series of rapes and murders in Gansu Baiyin between 1988 and 2022 that resulted in 11 victims. He was promoted to director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau in 2019.


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