China says probing more people after former Interpol chief’s fall

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Public Security Ministry said it would conduct further investigations into its own senior ranks late on Wednesday after a decision to prosecute former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, and warned that disloyalty to the Communist Party would not be tolerated.

China had announced earlier on Wednesday that an investigation had found Meng spent “lavish” amounts of state funds, abused his power and refused to follow party decisions, and that he had been expelled from the party and sacked as deputy public security minister.

Last October, Interpol, the global police coordination agency based in France, said Meng had resigned as its president, days after his wife reported him missing after he travelled back to China.

In statement late on Wednesday following an internal meeting, the public security ministry said Meng was “totally to blame” for the decision to expel him from the party and sack him.

“When it comes to party loyalty and sincerity, it is absolutely not allowed to be duplicitous, to agree overtly but oppose in secret, or to be a two-face person, or lead a double life, or engage in political social climbing,” it said.

“It is absolutely not allowed to make decisions without authorisation, to do or say as you wish.”

While the statement gave no details, the party’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign, championed by President Xi Jinping, has increasingly been focused on those it judges are disloyal to the party or question the decision of the top leadership.

China has persistently denied its war on graft is about political manoeuvring or Xi taking down his enemies. Xi told an audience in Seattle in 2015 that the anti-graft fight was no “House of Cards”-style power play, in a reference to the Netflix U.S. political drama.

The ministry said there needed to be a “thorough rooting out of Meng Hongwei’s pernicious influence”, and that there would be further probes on others.

“For those in leadership positions in the Public Security Ministry connected with Meng Hongwei’s case, no matter how high or low, no matter who is involved, no matter their position, all must be seriously handled in accordance with the law and discipline.”

The government announced its plans to prosecute Meng after Xi returned from a state visit to France, where Emmanuel Macron raised the issue of human rights in China and certain specific cases, a French presidency official said.

It has not been possible to reach Meng for comment since he was detained, and unclear if he has been allowed a lawyer.

Meng’s wife, Grace Meng, told French television on Sunday that she had written to Macron ahead of Xi’s trip seeking his help protecting their “fundamental human rights”.

Meng is certain to be found guilty when his case eventually comes to trial as the courts are controlled by the party and will not challenge its accusations.

Meng became president of the global police cooperation agency in late 2016 as China widened its bid to secure leadership posts in international organisations.

His appointment prompted concern at the time from rights groups that Beijing might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents abroad.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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