Interpol's missing Chinese chief resigns amid Beijing probe

Interpol's missing Chinese chief resigns amid Beijing probe

China said on Sunday it was investigating Meng Hongwei for suspected wrongdoing after the head of the global law enforcement organisation Interpol and Chinese vice minister for security was reported missing in France. It also hinted at a political dimension by stating Meng was being probed because of his own "willfulness and for bringing trouble upon himself".

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.

"Public Security Ministry Vice Minister Meng Hongwei is now under investigation by the National Supervisory Commission for suspected violations of law", the Chinese anti-graft body said in a brief statement on its website. It named South Korean national Kim Jong Yang, who was Senior Vice-President, as acting president.

She said she has had no further contact with him since the message that was sent on September 25.

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The French ministry, however, said that they did not have any information regarding that. His whereabouts and status have been mysteries since his wife reported Friday that she had not heard from him since he went to China at the end of September. Grace also said four minutes before Meng shared the image, he had sent a message saying: "Wait for my call".

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

However, it was not clear if the Interpol president, Meng Hongwei, was detained. Early in April, Meng had already lost his seat on China's Public Security Ministry's Communist Party Committee (its real decision-making body), although he is still listed on the ministry's website as a deputy minister. The policing organization did not explain how they received the resignation notice and how they determined its authenticity.

Meng's case follows another major disappearance in China of actress Fan Bingbing, who was out of the public eye for months until it was revealed last week that she had been under investigation by tax authorities.

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It adds that a "suitable police mechanism" was put in place to guarantee Grace Meng's safety, and that the prosecutor's office in Lyon has opened an investigation. Interpol has acknowledged reports about Meng's disappearance, and said in an email that it "is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China".

Meanwhile, Steve Tsang, director of SOAS China Institute in London, stated that due to Meng's stature, the call to detain him must have been taken by someone at the highest levels of the Chinese government.

Zhou Yongkang, a former domestic security czar, was sentenced to life in 2015 for graft, and the head of counterintelligence, Ma Jian, was prosecuted two years later.

"If what Meng is involved in is nothing more than an ordinary corruption case, there would have been no need for the authorities to handle it in such a manner".

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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.

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