China tight-lipped as Interpol seeks response on chief’s disappearance

Interpol has issued a new statement seeking clarification from China on the whereabouts of its chief, Meng Hongwei, a Chinese national, who went missing after arrival in his homeland last week.

Earlier statement of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) based in Lyon, France, above, said the investigation would be left to French and Chinese authorities.

The latest statement said Interpol’s General Secretariat is concerned about the well-being of their president and they are looking forward to an official response from Chinese authorities.

However, China remained silent on Saturday on Meng, deepening the mystery over his fate.

According to Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, authorities from China’s National Supervisory Commission had taken away Meng, who also serves as a vice-minister of China’s ministry of public security, for questioning on arrival in his homeland.

Beijing has given the commission sweeping powers to investigate the country’s top public servants whom they suspect to be involved in any corruption or anti-national activities.

It is said Beijing’s secretive anti-corruption campaign has targeted Meng. Several top government officials, business tycoons and even a film star have disappeared for weeks and months without any explanation from Beijing.

French police opened an investigation into the case of Meng on Friday after his wife reported he had gone missing since travelling to China. She has not heard from him so far.

Under Chinese law, a suspect’s family and employer must be notified within 24 hours of detention, except in cases where doing so would jeopardise an investigation.

The French interior ministry placed Meng’s wife under protection after she received “threats.”

Meng, 64, took over as president of the International Criminal Police Organization in November 2016. His term expires in 2020.

Meng had earlier served as vice chairman of the national narcotics control commission and director of the National Counter-Terrorism Office for China.

Meng’s Interpol appointment had raised concerns as many thought Beijing may seek his help in bringing back tainted Chinese citizens staying abroad through operations like Fox Hunt.

The case has a political angle too.

Zhou Yongkang, the man behind Meng’s elevation as vice security minister in 2004, was a rival to President Xi Jinping.

Corruption charges were levelled against Zhou and he was given life sentence in 2014 for “conspiring” to seize state power.

While many hail Xi for his anti-corruption campaign, others say he is using it as a cover to target his old rivals.