Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

China says missing Interpol chief Meng Hongwei is under investigation

China says missing Interpol chief Meng Hongwei is under investigation

The disciplinary organ of China's ruling Communist Party says the head of Interpol, a senior Chinese official, is under investigation on suspicion of unspecified legal violations.

Two days after he was reported to have gone missing on his China visit, Interpol president Meng Hongwei has submitted his resignation to France, Interpol has said.

South Korean national Kim Jong Yang has been appointed acting president ahead of a new leadership election in November.

Critics of Meng's 2016 election to Interpol's presidency said he would use the position to help China target dissidents overseas under the guise of pursuing corrupt officials.

Meng's wife had suspected danger to her husband's life after she revealed that he sent her an image of a knife before he disappeared.

"Thus, while the image of China and advancing China's capacity to take on leading offices in global organisations matter to the Chinese government, they are secondary to party considerations", he said.

Asked if she believed that he has been arrested, she said: "In China, what happened, I'm not sure".

Mr Meng's unexplained disappearance in China late last month, which had prompted the French Government and Interpol to make their concerns known publicly, has threatened to tarnish Beijing's image.

Meng, a Chinese national, was first reported missing on September 29.

Beijing had remained tight-lipped about the fate of Meng, who is also China's vice minister for public security, since his disappearance was disclosed by French officials on Friday.

Meng under investigation: China breaks silence on Interpol director disappearance

Meng Hongwei, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, was the first Chinese official to become president of Interpol, which is based in Lyon.

It was not until almost midnight on Sunday that China finally provided an explanation, releasing a one-sentence statement which said that Meng was under the "monitoring and investigation" of anti-corruption party investigators.

Steve Tsang, director of SOAS China Institute in London, said that given Meng's seniority, any decision to detain him must have come from the highest levels of the Chinese government.

In a sign of her nervous apprehension, Meng's wife would not allow reporters to show her face, saying she feared for her own safety and the safety of her children.

His wife, Grace, told reporters in Lyon, where Interpol is headquartered, that she was concerned after receiving a text message from her husband with a knife emoji.

Interpol, or the International Police Criminal Organization, facilitates international police cooperation.

On October 5, Interpol released a media statement saying that the organization was aware of Meng's "alleged disappearance".

French police launched an investigation to find him. His term as Interpol president runs until 2020.

The Chinese effort to track down corrupt officials overseas, known as Operation Fox Hunt, has led to claims in some countries that Chinese law-enforcement agents have been operating covertly on their soil without authorisation.

"This will be deeply embarrassing to China and it may well have to pay a price for its nominee for the presidency of Interpol to be detained for undefined crimes in China, [but] this is of secondary consideration to the party leader if he has a reason to want to take Meng down".

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