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China admits detaining missing Interpol chief, accuses him of bribery

The Chinese government confirmed over the weekend that it had detained Interpol President Meng Hongwei over accusations of bribery charges. Interpol confirmed Meng's resignation on Sunday. (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

After days of silence, the Chinese government acknowledged Sunday that it had detained missing Interpol President Meng Hongwei over accusations of bribery and other crimes. The same day, the international police organization announced that it had accepted Meng's resignation with "immediate effect."

What are the details?

Meng's wife reported him missing after he fell out of touch on a trip from his home in Lyon, France, to his native China in late September. At a news conference on Sunday, Meng's wife revealed that shortly before her husband's disappearance, he sent her a knife emoji via WhatsApp with the message, "Wait for my call," which she interpreted to mean that he was in danger, according to the South China Morning Post.

The Associated Press reported that China's National Supervisory Commission issued a statement late Sunday saying that Meng, 64, was being investigated for suspected crimes as a result of his own "willfulness" and had only himself to blame.

"We should deeply recognize the serious damage that Meng Hongwei's bribe-taking and suspected violations of the law have caused the party and the cause of public security and deeply learn from this lesson," the announcement stated.

On Monday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, dismissed the possibility of Meng's detention hurting the country's global image and said, "This has shown the Chinese government's firm resolve to crack down on corruption and crime."

"It has also made very clear that this case fully demonstrates that the party is firm in fighting corruption and anybody will be punished seriously in accordance with the law if they violated the law," he continued.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Public Security did not provide details about the allegations against Meng, but hinted that he may have been linked to former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, who is currently serving a life sentence for corruption.

"We should resolutely oppose corruption and resolutely eliminate the pernicious influence of Zhou Yongkang," it stated, indicating that party disloyalty questions may be involved.

Why did Meng resign from Interpol?

Interpol announced Meng's abrupt resignation on Sunday, but provided no further details.

Kim Jong Yang, acting president of Interpol, told the Associated Press, "I find it regrettable that the top leader of the organization had to go out this way and that we weren't specifically notified of what was happening in advance.

"We still don't have sufficient information about what's happening [with Meng] or whether it has anything to do with Chinese domestic politics," he added.

On Saturday, Interpol's Secretary General Jurgen Stock had issued a public request that the Chinese government fill the organization in on what happened to Meng.

"Interpol has requested through official law enforcement channels clarification from China's authorities on the status of Interpol President Meng Hongwei," he said.

"Interpol's General Secretariat looks forward to an official response from China's authorities to address concerns over the President's well-being."

Anything else?

The New York Times reported, "Mr. Meng's abrupt and mysterious disappearance has left a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Chinese officials and the international bodies that are increasingly giving them leadership roles."

Michael Caster, a Bangkok-based researcher and human rights advocate told the Times, "Imagine if China were to somehow, someday, get a United Nations secretary general, and then he too one day disappeared. The brazenness with which China operates outside all concept or procedure of international norms is really concerning."

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