INTERPOL is an intergovernmental organization that helps link criminal police forces of over 180 countries worldwide. The main purpose of INTERPOL is to install and maintain institutions that help contribute to the prevention and suppression of international crime. Originally founded in 1914, it is the only police force that works around the entire globe. Recently in early October, Meng Hongwei the president of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) disappeared on September 25th. Meng left France on a visit to his native country of China. The same day that he departed, his wife Grace received a disturbing text message from her husband’s cell phone: the knife emoji. This is believed to be a follow up message to an earlier one which simply asked for Grace to wait for Meng to call. However, after several days of pandemonium, word broke out that Meng was being detained by the Chinese authorities.
China’s Public Security Minister, Zhao Keshi, informed the public that Meng is currently being investigated for allegations of bribery. Zhao went on to say, “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.” However, INTERPOL has asked China to explain their brazen actions, and Secretary General Jurgen Stock has sent an official request to China in order to clarify the current status of INTERPOL’s president.
NPR’S Rob Schmitz reporting from China stated, “Observers in China say the fact that Beijing is willing to jeopardize its diplomatic relations by detaining Meng in this way suggests the stakes are high.” It is no surprise that China is dealing with this issue so strictly, considering their former head of security was also imprisoned in 2015 after pleading guilty to taking bribes and leaking state secrets. Furthermore, in addition to being the president of INTERPOL, Meng was also fired from his job as China’s vice minister of public security, shortly after being detained by Chinese officials. Currently, South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang will act as the intermediate president of INTERPOL until elections are held in November.
Undoubtedly, the bold move of essentially kidnapping the head of a major international organization has drawn attention and fierce opposition from the international community. This is a situation in which the sovereignty of a nation and its laws are in conflict with an international organization. Clearly, the Chinese government believes its national security and reputation trump the world stage.