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Ex-Interpol chief Meng rose under Zhou, rival of President Xi

Meng Hongwei. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Beijing, China Oct 08, 2018, 10.04 PM (IST)

Ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei,64, who has been arrested by China on alleged bribery charges has once brought back China's President Xi's anti-graft drive into focus.

Also Read: China says missing Interpol chief accepted bribes

Meng who had taken over as the Interpol president two years ago was the first Chinese national to bag the top post in the international police force. However, at that time human rights group had expressed concern that Beijing might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents abroad.

Meng was a well known crime fighter in China.  

On Sunday, Interpol said it had received a resignation of Mr Meng Hongwei as President of Interpol with immediate effect. China Ministry of Public Security said on Monday that Meng was being suspected of taking bribes and violating laws and was being investigated. "He has submitted a written letter to resign his post as the Interpol president," Lu Kang, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

"The investigation against Meng Hongwei taking bribes and suspected violations of law is very timely, absolutely correct and rather wise," China's Ministry of Public Security said.

Meng's sudden disappearance was flagged off by his wife in Lyon while informing reporters about her husband's plight. She showed journalists a text message on her mobile phone with an image of a knife, sent by her husband as a way of showing her that he felt he was in danger, French media reported. 

China under President Xi has cracked down heavily on corruption. China's Hollywood star Fan Bingbing was recently put under detention allegedly for evading taxes. Tax authorities ordered Fan to pay $129 million in back taxes, fines and penalties, adding that she would avoid incarceration if she pays up in time.

Meng rose through the ranks in China under Zhou Yongkang who is known to be a rival of President Xi. Zhou was arrested in 2014 for allegedly trying to seize state power.

In 2004, Zhou had appointed Meng as vice security minister. He worked ceaselessly in China's anti-terrorism division including in China's restive Xinjiang province. In April, China withdrew his membership of the Communist Party. He had joined the Communist Party while still in his 20s.

A graduate of Peking University, Meng was born in Harbin which is the largest Chinese city in the northeastern region. 

During Meng's tenure as vice security minister, China's public security bureau had arrested a number of prominent Chinese dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died of liver cancer under police custody last year. In 2013, Meng was appointed the director of China's maritime police bureau concerned with anti-smuggling operations.

Interpol which consists of group of 192 countries acts as police force concerned with catching criminals and finding missing people worldwide. French police which was investigating Meng's case termed it a "worrying disappearance".

At Interpol, Meng presided over the organisation's General Assembly and Executive Committee meetings and was expected to serve till 2020.