Interpol asks China for information on its missing president

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The Lyon-based global police agency said Saturday that it used law enforcement channels to submit its request about Meng's status to Beijing, citing concerns about his well-being.

The Chinese law enforcement official's election as president of Interpol in 2016 was seen at the time as a victory for Beijing, and a development that lended legitimacy to the worldwide reputation of China's criminal justice system.

Meng's wife reported him missing to police in Lyon Thursday after she said she hadn't heard from in in 10 days and had recently received threats, a French Interior Ministry statement said. An investigation into Meng Hongwei's disappearance was launched on October 5, 2018 according to a source close to the case.

Before taking over as Interpol's chief in 2016, Meng served as vice minister of public security in China, among other positions within China's security establishment.

Neither China's public security ministry nor its foreign ministry have replied to queries about the president.

Mr Meng likely dealt extensively with former security chief Zhou Yongkang, who is now serving a life sentence for corruption.

He is still listed as a vice-minister for the Chinese government according to the South China Morning Post. But because Interpol's secretary-general is responsible for the day-to-day running of the police agency's operations, Meng's absence may have little operational effect. "Exchanges with Chinese authorities continue", the ministry added.

"He did not disappear in France", the source told AFP.

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Xi has been seeking the return of officials and businesspeople accused of fraud and corruption from overseas, sometimes with the help of Interpol in an arrangement human rights advocates say is prone to abuse.

The organisation links up police officials from its 192 member states, who can use Interpol to disseminate their search for a fugitive or a missing person.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party's secretive internal investigation agency, had no announcements on its website about Meng and could not be reached for comment.

Al Jazeera's Adrian Brow, reporting from Beijing, said China's silence is a "reflection of how sensitive this case is".

News of Meng's apparent disappearance comes after Chinese officials announced that Hollywood star Fan Bingbing, who also vanished without a trace several months ago, has been ordered to pay millions of dollars in alleged back taxes and penalties.

Meng is head of the executive committee that oversees Interpol.

"This is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China". However, it does not have the power to send officers into countries to arrest individuals or issue arrest warrants. Mr Meng's term is scheduled to run until 2020. "Yellow notices" are issued for missing persons.

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