File photo of an Interpol office In Lyon, France.

China is defending the candidacy of a senior public security official for Interpol's executive committee in the face of rising criticism from foreign politicians and human rights groups who fear his election could put thousands of Chinese political dissidents abroad at risk. 

The official, Hu Binchen, is one of three candidates up for two seats as Asia delegates on the 13-member committee, which sets policy and direction for Interpol and supervises the work of its general secretariat.