Interpol admits it's clueless in case of missing Chinese chief Meng Hongwei

Former Interpol head Meng Hongwei

Beijing has not seen fit to prevent Interpol in the investigation of its president, not more than France, where the police institution has its headquarters.

Meng is the latest high-ranking official, and one with an unusually prominent global standing, to fall victim to a sweeping crackdown by the ruling Communist Party on graft and perceived disloyalty.

Meng Hongwei, the head of Interpol (the worldwide police organization), disappeared mysteriously during his trip to China in late September.

During Meng's tenure, China's public security bureau also arrested and interrogated a number of prominent Chinese dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died of liver cancer while in police custody previous year.

A new president will be elected for the remaining two years of Mr Meng's mandate at the general assembly in Dubai next month.

Meng was an active president. "China's Ministry of Public Security has also informed Interpol's General Secretariat".

Under President Xi Jinping, China has been engaged in a sweeping crackdown on official corruption. And he had a hand in Chinese police operations that reached overseas, including Operation Fox Hunt, which sought to repatriate hundreds of former Chinese officials and businesspeople who had fled overseas and were suspected of corruption. Asked whether Meng has committed any crime as President of Interpol and whether China will put up a new candidate to replace him, Lu said the probe is still going on.

In a release, the Ministry of Public Security, China, said police will form a task force to investigate Meng's associates. "I believe the worldwide community will draw their own conclusion on this", he said.

Beijing has so far declined to address Meng's disappearance. "Making the president of Interpol suddenly disappear is embarrassing". Some of them might have been pursued by Chinese authorities under Meng's watch.

The action against Meng has shown Chinese government's firm resolve to crack down on corruption and crimes and it is also made very clear that this case fully demonstrates that the party is firm in fighting corruption, he said.

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Speculation for the reasons behind Meng's swift downfall ranges from his access to sensitive information after a long career at the public security ministry to his tenure at Interpol, when the organisation revoked an worldwide alert for Dolkun Isa, president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, which is critical of China's treatment of ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang.

From a Chinese government perspective, there are two likely reasons for this action.

That was an ominous follow-up to an earlier message, which had asked her to wait for Meng to call.

"We should resolutely oppose corruption and resolutely eliminate the pernicious influence of Zhou Yongkang", the statement by the Ministry of Public Security said. If Meng himself wasn't involved in such activities, he would have known where the bodies were buried-figuratively and perhaps literally.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing will continue to support Interpol's work and "strengthen pragmatic cooperation" with its member states to crack down on crime. But in China domestic security and the party come before all else and negative foreign press is unlikely to move the country's leadership.

"Unless Interpol presses for an open investigation and due process for Meng Hongwei, it is definitely going to be criticised".

Meng spent decades working in Chinese law enforcement before his Interpol appointment, reaching the title of vice minister for public security. For the most part, its budget has been dependent on donor money from member countries.

Why did Meng resign from Interpol?

But Cheng Xiaohe, an worldwide relations professor at Renmin University, said that while the case "damages" China's image, it also demonstrates that it "does not care too much about saving face in anti-corruption matters".

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