Interpol asks China for information on president who vanished during trip

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Paris - Interpol has officially asked Chinese authorities to provide information on the worldwide police organization's missing president, Meng Hongwei. His wife has since reported him missing.

China's Ministry of Public Security did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment and there was no mention of him in official media on Saturday.

Meng's wife contacted police in Lyon, the French city where the global police agency is based, after not hearing from him since September 25, and after receiving threats by phone and on social media, France's interior ministry said.

The Lyon-based agency said in a brief statement Saturday that "it looks forward to an official response from China's authorities to address concerns over the president's well-being".

He previously served as China's vice minister of public security and was elected to lead Interpol in 2016.

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Interpol is the world's largest agency facilitating police cooperation with 192 member countries.

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Interpol said it was aware of reports of the "alleged disappearance" of its president and said the issue was a matter for France and China.

Meng's appointment as president in 2016 - amid Chinese leader Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption drive - alarmed some human rights organizations, fearful it would embolden China to strike out at dissidents and refugees overseas.

"France is puzzled about the situation of Interpol's president and concerned about the threats made to his wife", the ministry said.

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So far, in Beijing, foreign and public security ministers have not reacted to Meng's disappearance, as reported by worldwide news agency Reuters.

Meng is head of the executive committee that oversees Interpol. She said since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, well over a million party officials have been disciplined in some way.

The official did not specify the reason for why Meng, who was a vice-minister at China's Ministry of Public Security, was detained.

So far, Chinese authorities have not made an official statement in this regard. Family members of missing party officials rarely, if ever, reach out to foreign authorities, for fear their relatives will face ever greater punishment.

Authorities in China and Hong Kong have accused Guo, who resides in the United States, of laundering billions of dollars among other crimes. 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. Meng's term is due to run until 2020.

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According to Interpol's website, Meng has almost 40 years of experience in criminal justice and policing, and has overseen matters related to legal institutions, narcotics control and counterterrorism. His appointment also sparked concern about China extending its crackdown on dissidents overseas. "Yellow notices" are issued for missing persons.