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Chinese head of Interpol disappears

In 2016, Mèng Hóngweǐ 孟宏伟 was appointed president of Interpol, the organization that facilitates international police cooperation. He holds the position concurrently with his role as vice minister of China’s Ministry of Public Security.

Meng’s selection was controversial, with critics worrying that he would abuse his position to arrest Chinese dissidents and refugees abroad. Interpol issues “Red Notices,” a type of international arrest warrant that Russia and China sometimes use to target political opponents.

Now Meng is in trouble himself: French police have opened an investigation after his wife reported him missing. He was on a trip back to China when he disappeared.

"Interpol is aware of media reports in connection with the alleged disappearance of Interpol President Meng Hongwei. This is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China. Interpol's General Secretariat headquarters will not comment further." That’s all Interpol was willing to say on the matter, according to CNN.“Meng Hongwei's disappearance seems to fit in with a now familiar pattern among China's senior Communist Party officials,” explains the BBC’s Celia Hatton. “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. Eventually, the party issues a terse statement that the official is ‘under investigation,’ the official is then booted from the party for ‘disciplinary infractions’ and — eventually — a prison sentence is announced.”“The possible downfall of Mr. Meng could also acutely embarrass the Chinese government, with reverberations felt far beyond Beijing,” say Chris Buckley and Aurelien Breeden of the New York Times(porous paywall). “Meng’s disappearance threatens to taint China’s image, demonstrating that even the most prominent official of an international police organization is subject to secretive disappearance under Mr. Xi.”


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