What Happened to Meng Hongwei? The Missing President of INTERPOL

On October 7th, 2018, Meng Hongwei resigned from his position as President of INTERPOL. Meng’s resignation came after being accused of bribery and corruption by the Chinese government, however, there was never any proof provided by China for bribery other than a generic statement by the Chinese government. Moreover, INTERPOL will not further investigate Meng and will move to elect another President on November 18th.So, why was Meng, a symbol of Chinese national pride to many, detained by Chinese authorities this past September?

Meng Hongwei- A Policeman 

Meng Hongwei created the security framework that would later imprison him. After over 40 years of work in public security, Meng helped enforce Xi Jinping’s anti- corruption policy to target individuals deemed as economically and politically corrupt by the Chinese government.During the time of Xi Jinping’s election in 2012, Meng was on Xi’s good side due to his campaign to expand the Chinese Coast Guard’s influence in the contested South China Sea.

In 2004, Meng was promoted to the Director of National Counter- Terrorism, and in the same year become head of INTERPOL China.The appointment launched his career with INTERPOL, which would eventually lead to Meng’s election in 2016 as the President of INTERPOL. With his election as president of INTERPOL, Xi Jinping’s anti- corruption campaign had influence on a global scale.

Image courtesy of Web Summit via Flickr, © 2012, some rights reserved.

Meng Hongwei- A Survivor

In 2013, Xi Jinping’s anti- corruption campaign began to turn inward on its own police force. One of the first to go was Meng Hongwei’s former boss, Zhou Yongkang, the former Chinese National Police Chief.The charges for Zhou Yongkang, curiously, were also for bribery and corruption; the same as Meng’s. Soon, Xi wiped out the old guard of Chinese security officials, and replaced them with his own.Still, Meng survived the purge of security officials, likely due to his growing influence in INTERPOL and his commitment to Xi’s anti- corruption campaign. Moreover, Meng and his wife, in a move to protect himself, claimed that Zhou and him had poor relations, and that Zhou was trying to push him out of his position in Chinese security.

Meng Hongwei- The Criminal

The first red flag for Meng’s upheaval occurred in April. Meng lost his seat to the Public Security Ministry’s Party Committee.This was the first visible sign of Meng losing touch with the central Chinese government. Then, the following September, Meng disappeared on a trip from France.His wife, Grace Hongwei, immediately followed up the disappearance by calling for an INTERPOL inquiry into the Chinese government and showing officials a text sent from Meng that included a knife emoticon.

Meng Hongwei- A Mystery

 Since Meng’s disappearance, Grace Hongwei has been the reason for Meng staying in the newsreel. Through press conferences, it appears that Grace is both ensuring her safety by staying in the spotlight and bringing attention to her husbands’ disappearance. Still, Meng’s story in recent weeks has been overshadowed by the murder of Khashoggi by the Saudi Arabian regime. It leaves one to wonder whether the Chinese government will ever bring Meng back into the spotlight- or whether his legacy will go forgotten.


Banner photo: Image courtesy of Web Summit via Flickr, © 2012, some rights reserved.