Interpol president reported missing after trip to China

Meng Hongwei president of Interpol

While Meng is head of the executive committee that oversees Interpol, the agency is run by Secretary General Juergen Stock.

The French are "obviously aware of the disappearance but know nothing more at this stage", said one diplomatic official, unauthorized to comment publicly on the matter and speaking only on condition of anonymity.

"He left Lyon for China last week".

According to Meng's bio on Interpol's website, he has nearly 40 years of experience in criminal justice and policing, during which he dealt with issues related to legal institutions, narcotics control, counter-terrorism, border control, immigration and global cooperation.

Meng was last seen in France on September 29, police sources said.

By 2004, he was a vice minister of public security and that same year became head of Interpol's China branch. He also referred to the global governance structure as "entering a period of change", saying that, "under such circumstances, I hope that we will adhere to our neutral and apolitical positions on major issues".

Such actions would be contrary to Interpol's mission statement: "Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights".

His duties in China would have put him in close proximity to former leaders, some who had fallen afoul of Xi's campaign.

News of the investigation into Mr Meng's disappearance came during a week-long public holiday in China.

The Hong Kong-based newspaper added that it was not clear why he was being investigated by "discipline authorities" or where he was being held.

Were there indications something would happen?

Presidents of Interpol are seconded from their national administrations and remain in their home post while representing the global policing body.

Xi has also placed a premium on obtaining the return of officials and businesspeople accused of fraud and corruption from overseas, making Meng's position all the more sensitive.

That could have been a sign of his declining political fortunes, or simply a prelude to his impending retirement, given that, at 64, he was approaching the age when officials generally begin stepping down from their positions.

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