Interpol asks China for information on missing president Meng Hongwei

Cheryl Sanders
October 7, 2018

Vice-Minister at China's Ministry of Public Security, Meng Hongwei is now under investigation in China, amidst the mystery surrounding his disappearance after his wife reported to the French police that he went missing.

China has not commented officially on Meng's disappearance.

"Interpol's General Secretariat looks forward to an official response from China's authorities to address concerns over the president's well-being".

Mr Meng is the first person from China to serve as Interpol's president, a post that is largely symbolic but powerful in status. Meng's wife was purportedly not informed.

Citing an anonymous source, the South China Morning Post said authorities from the country's disciplinary commission had snatched Meng upon arrival in Beijing.

A person familiar with the investigation into the disappearance said the initial working assumption of Western investigators was that Meng had antagonised Chinese authorities in some way and had been detained as a result. The language of Interpol's Saturday statement seeking "clarification" from Chinese authorities gives further impetus to these reports.

Interpol has downplayed the concerns, saying the president has little influence over the organisation's day-to-day operations, which are handled by secretary-general Stock, a German.

Meng's wife says she hasn't heard from him since he left the French city of Lyon at the end of September to go to China.

He added that China was likely to "brush off" any political damage that it would cause to Beijing's involvement in global bodies.

Chinese president Xi Jinping (習近平) has presided over an anti-graft drive since coming to power in 2012 that has punished more than 1 million officials.

Mr Meng has held various positions within China's security establishment, including as a vice minister of public security since 2004.

China yesterday remained silent over the disappearance of the head of Interpol, deepening the mystery over the global police chief's fate after reports said he was detained for questioning on arrival in his homeland. Mr Meng's term is scheduled to run until 2020.

He also has 40 years of experience in criminal justice and policing in China, notably in the fields of drugs, counter-terrorism and border control.

But it does not have the power to send officers into countries to arrest individuals or issue arrest warrants.

At the time, his appointment raised fears among human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, that he would be used by the Chinese Government to pursue political dissidents who fled the country. The official in question suddenly drops out of the public eye and an alarm is raised that the person is "missing", usually by members of the public.

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