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China: Interpol calls for an explanation for Meng Hongwei's disappearance

Interpol has asked China to give reasons in the case of its missing President Meng Hongwei. Juergen Stock, the general secretary of the international police agency, said Interpol is awaiting an official response from the Chinese authorities to address concerns about Meng's welfare. China, which currently has one week of public holidays to mark the establishment of the state, did not respond.

Meng Hongwei is a Chinese citizen and has headed Interpol since November 2016. The 64-year-old traveled from France - the headquarters of Interpol - to his home country on September 29. Since then he has disappeared. His wife reported him missing to the French police on Friday. The police authorities have started an investigation.

The French government expressed concern on Friday after Meng's wife said she received threats over the Internet and over the phone. According to the Paris Interior Ministry, the wife was placed under protection. The Lyon Public Prosecutor is investigating the threats.

Chinese disciplinary commission allegedly led Meng away

Like the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post reports, Meng is said to have been taken away by members of the national disciplinary commission after his arrival in China. However, this was not initially confirmed. The Commission is entitled to investigate officials without being too transparent.

According to Chinese law, in the event of arrest, the authorities are required to notify family members. Exceptions are cases in which national security is affected, terrorism or the destruction of evidence or the manipulation of witnesses.

Meng could have been the target of an anti-corruption campaign

Since Meng was a confidante of the ousted security chief Zhou Yongkang, it could be that he has been the target of an anti-corruption campaign. Zhou, formerly one of the most powerful men in the country and an opponent of China's President Xi Jinping, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014 for corruption, abuse of power and betrayal of secrecy. Other high-ranking officials have also disappeared as part of Xi's anti-corruption course. Abroad, this is seen as a political cleansing of the power apparatus.

Meng Hongwei was appointed Deputy Minister of Public Security in 2004. As such, he was responsible, among other things, for the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking as well as for border controls. In autumn 2016 he was elected Interpol President. Critics of the election suggested at the time that the leadership in Beijing could use Interpol to arrest dissidents abroad on the pretext of fighting corruption.

Meng's term of office as Interpol President runs until 2020. During his absence, General Secretary J├╝rgen Stock will manage the business.