Interpol president Meng Hongwei reported missing during trip to China

Interpol's main function is to provide a mechanism for police forces in different countries to notify each other of wanted suspects. His experience ranges from narcotics control to counter-terrorism, according to Interpol's website.

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

He was named president of Interpol in 2016.

When Mr Meng was elected in 2016 as Interpol president, rights groups expressed concern that he would pursue an agenda of politicised policing that targeted Mr Xi's opponents.

Interpol President Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of International Police Organisation in Lyon, France, May 8, 2018.

"He left Lyon for China last week". He is not believed to have disappeared in France, where the International Criminal Police Organization is based, according to French media, quoting authorities in France. Interpol acknowledged the reports about Meng, and said in an email that it "is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China". He also referred to the global governance structure as "entering a period of change", saying that, "under such circumstances, I hope that we will adhere to our neutral and apolitical positions on major issues".

Meng, 64, is a senior Communist Party official in China.

Zhou was one of the highest-profile figures caught up in President Xi Jinping's sprawling campaign against graft at all levels of government, military and state industry. It reported that it was not clear why he was being investigated or where he was being held.

Were there indications something would happen?

Critics suggested that Meng's election gave Beijing a chance to enlist more worldwide help in tracking down alleged economic criminals, including corrupt officials, targeted by President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign.

He was the first Chinese leader of Interpol, which connects the law enforcement agencies of its 192 member countries.

  • Jon Douglas