China expels ex-Interpol chief Meng from Communist Party

BEIJING, China (UPDATED) – China has expelled former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei from the Communist Party and dismissed him from his official positions, the country's graft watchdog announced Wednesday, March 27.

Meng, who served as the vice minister of public security, vanished in September 2018 during a visit to China from France, and was later accused of accepting bribes.

"Meng Hongwei has no party principles ...does not report personal matters in accordance with regulations ..and refuses to implement the decision of the Party Central Committee," the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a statement.

Meng had used state assets to support his family's lavish lifestyle while abusing his position to get his wife employment, the watchdog said, adding that he "illegally accepted huge amounts of property from others."

"Meng Hongwei seriously violated the party's political discipline and political rules ...seriously tarnished the party's image, seriously damaged national interest ...and should be seriously dealt with," the CCDI said.

The case has been handed over to the state prosecutor's office, and his "illegal income" has been confiscated, it added.

Long career

Meng, the first Chinese head of Interpol, had risen through the ranks of the country's feared security apparatus.

He had a 14-year career overseeing various top public security bureaux in China, including the country's armed police force.

As vice security minister, Meng has been entrusted with a number of sensitive portfolios, including the country's counterterrorism division, and was in charge of the response to violence in China's fractious northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Upon his 2016 election to the Interpol presidency, there were concerns by rights groups that Beijing could use the organization to round up Chinese dissidents overseas.

But day-to-day operations are overseen by the Interpol secretary general, though Meng presided over the organization's General Assembly and Executive Committee meetings, where key discussions around Interpol's general policies and international cooperation take place.

Shortly after his disappearance in 2018, Beijing informed the international police organization that Meng had resigned as president, and that he had been charged with accepting bribes.

Anti-graft drive

News of Meng's sacking comes just a day after the country's former head of internet censorship, Lu Wei, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for bribery.

Meng and Lu are part of a growing group of Communist Party cadres caught in President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign, which critics say has served as a way to remove the leader's political enemies.

In October, the country's public security bureau linked Meng's detention to a broader initiative to "completely remove the pernicious influence" of Zhou Yongkang, a former security tsar who was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for bribery, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.

Meng was appointed vice security minister by Zhou in 2004.

More than one million officials have been punished so far during Xi's six-year tenure.

Meng's wife Grace last week urged French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss her husband's case with Xi during the Chinese president's official visit to Paris.

In her written appeal, Meng demanded that her husband be allowed to receive visits from his lawyers.

Since her husband's arrest, she has remained in Lyon – where Interpol's headquarters is based – under French police protection. She has also applied for asylum in France and said she fears for her life and that of her twin sons. – Rappler.com