Interpol demands 'clarification' from China on missing chief Meng Hongwei

The Prince of Wales shakes hands with Meng during his tour of Interpol as part of his visit to France in May

The agency "looks forward to an official response from China's authorities to address concerns over the president's well-being", the statement said.

He added that: 'Interpol has requested through official law enforcement channels clarification from China's authorities on the status of Interpol President Meng Hongwei'.

A spokeswoman for Interpol, who declined to give her name, refused to say whether Meng was on official business in China when he was last heard from.

On Friday, the French police started an investigation after the Meng's wife reported that he was missing, unidentified police officials told Reuters.

He previously served as China's vice minister of public security and was elected to lead Interpol in 2016. Calls and faxed questions to the foreign and public security ministries went unanswered.

Following the appointment, critics suggested that Meng's appointment gave Beijing a chance to enlist more global help in tracking down alleged economic criminals, including corrupt officials, targeted by President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign.

Critics of Meng's 2016 election to Interpol's presidency said he would use the position to help China target dissidents overseas under the guise of pursuing corrupt officials.

The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, has suggested that Mr Meng may have been the latest target of an ongoing campaign against corruption in China.

But Interpol has, in the past, denied this, saying its head does not intervene in day-to-day operations, which are handled by secretary-general Juergen Stock who is German.

During Meng's tenure, Interpol issued a red notice for fugitive Chinese billionaire real estate tycoon Guo Wengui, who threatened to reveal corruption at the country's highest levels.

The newspaper said that upon landing last week Meng was "taken away" for questioning by what it said were "discipline authorities". The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's secretive internal investigation agency, had no announcements on its website about Meng and could not be reached for comment.

Meng Hongwei, president of Interpol.

People are arrested during a temporary stay in China, are also deprived of their freedom and are often interrogated for a perennial period, Le Monde report said.

It is not clear why Meng - the first Chinese president of Interpol - would be under investigation.

China has not commented officially on Meng's disappearance and there was no mention of him in official media on Saturday.

The 36-year-old took to China's Twitter-like Weibo to acknowledge her wrongs, beg for her supporters" forgiveness, and apologise to "society, the friends who care about me, the public and the national tax authorities'.

"As a matter of fact, Interpol cannot by itself investigate the whereabouts of its missing president, but it can, and in fact should, issue a yellow notice", she said.

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