The missing president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, has deep ties to China’s sprawling domestic security sector, including a lengthy term as vice minister of public security.
Here are some facts about Meng that might have a bearing on his disappearance during a trip to China.
WHAT’S HIS BACKGROUND?
Meng’s official biography says he was born in 1953 in the northeastern city of Harbin and graduated with a degree in law from prestigious Peking University. He appears to have moved swiftly into the central government in Beijing, acting as an assistant to the public security minister — China’s top cop — as well as head of the transportation department. By 2004, he was a vice minister of public security and that same year became head of Interpol’s China branch. He was head or deputy head of branches of the coast guard, and in 2016, he was elected Interpol’s president.
WHAT ARE HIS DUTIES?
Meng’s position as Interpol’s president is less hands-on than the organization’s secretary general, but he works out of its headquarters in Lyon, France, and has made frequent appearances at crime prevention gatherings. According to Interpol’s website, in May he delivered a speech in Ireland in which he discussed the changing face of global crime and the need for Interpol to remain above political considerations. “First, it is obvious that globalization, virtualization and high-tech are the new features of crime. Second, crime has become a global security issue. This was not the case in the past,” Meng said. 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.” Despite such statements, rights groups expressed concern that Meng would help further China’s agenda of attacking the government’s political foes while neutralizing criticism.