Did China detain missing Interpol president?

Interpol President Meng Hongwei walks toward the stage to deliver his opening address at the Interpol World congress. — AP

Interpol chief goes missing

An unnamed French judicial official was quoted saying in the report that Meng did arrive in China at the last of September but there had been no news of him since then.

China, which is in the middle of a weeklong holiday, did not immediately respond to the request.

According to BBC Asia Editor Celia Hatton, Meng Hongwei's disappearance seems to fit in with a now familiar pattern among China's senior Communist Party officials.

Diplomats say the role of Interpol president is largely ceremonial, with day-to-day work carried out by its secretary general, Juergen Stock, and his staff.

"Meng Hongwei, who is also a vice-minister at China's Ministry of Public Security, was taken away for questioning by discipline authorities as soon as he landed in China last week", South China Morning Post reported on Saturday citing sources.

It was not clear why Meng, 64, who has been Interpol's president for two years, had travelled to China.

As president, he chairs Interpol's executive committee, elected by member states, and is in charge of ensuring that the organization complies with decisions of the committee and the annual general assembly. The language of Interpol's Saturday statement seeking "clarification" from Chinese authorities gives further impetus to these reports.

Interpol said in a statement: "Interpol is aware of media reports in connection with the alleged disappearance of Interpol President Meng Hongwei".

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On Friday, the French police started an investigation after the Meng's wife reported that he was missing, unidentified police officials told Reuters.

However, the party's investigation agency, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, did not make any announcements about Mr Meng, the first person from China to hold the influential Interpol post.

Meng is also a vice minister for public security in China.

French authorities haven't confirmed those details, but did say he was not in France when he was last seen. His term as Interpol president runs until 2020.

"It is freakish", Broadhurst said on Saturday, adding that China was likely to "brush off" any political damage that it would cause to Beijing's involvement in global bodies. However, it does not have the power to send officers into countries to arrest individuals or issue arrest warrants.

At the time, his appointment raised fears among human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, that he would be used by the Chinese Government to pursue political dissidents who fled the country.

His duties in China would have put him in close proximity to former leaders, some who fell afoul of President Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption campaign.

"As a matter of fact, Interpol cannot by itself investigate the whereabouts of its missing president, but it can, and in fact should, issue a yellow notice", she said.

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