February 22, 2019

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Head of Interpol Disappears, and Eyes Turn Toward China

Head of Interpol Disappears, and Eyes Turn Toward China
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Unlike Interpol’s secretary general, Jürgen Stock, who directly oversees the group’s daily work of police cooperation and carries out any decisions it makes, Mr. Meng had a less hands-on and more ceremonial role. As president, Mr. Meng presides at meetings and conferences, and sometimes represented the organization during trips abroad.

After Mr. Meng was elected by Interpol’s general assembly in 2016, he was celebrated by China’s state-run news media as confirming that the country was winning international recognition and respect under President Xi Jinping. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lu Kang, said at the time that Mr. Meng’s elevation had “received a positive response from the broad numbers of member countries” of Interpol.

“China has not been a member of Interpol for long, and Meng Hongwei’s election as its president is undoubtedly related to China’s increasingly important role in recent years in protecting regional and global security,” said a Chinese state newspaper, Beijing Youth Daily. “The law enforcement capacities and qualities demonstrated by China’s law enforcement authorities have won broad praise across the world.”

Just over a year ago, Mr. Meng presided over a general assembly of Interpol members in Beijing. China’s president, Mr. Xi, gave the opening speech, praising the organization and declaring that “China is willing to share its experience in security governance with every country in the world,” China’s official news agency, Xinhua reported.

Mr. Meng has remained a vice minister of China’s Ministry of Public Security while he serves as president of Interpol, and a page describing his background and activities remained on the ministry’s website on Friday. China is in the middle of a weeklong National Day vacation, and calls to the ministry’s media office on Friday evening were not answered.

In April, the ministry disclosed that Mr. Meng was no longer a member of the Communist Party committee that oversees the ministry, a step that sparked speculation on overseas Chinese websites that he could be in trouble.

But official Chinese news media have not leveled any accusations against Mr. Meng, and as recently as August, he continued to receive official visitors in Beijing.

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