China Threatens France For Giving Political Asylum To Wife Of Jailed Ex-Interpol Chief

Chinese officials have threatened to cease all police cooperation with France for giving political asylum to the wife of ex-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, according to AFP

"There hasn't been any official request to suspend the cooperation but an informal expression of intent," said an AFP source, confirming a weekend report by French daily Le Monde that the security attache in France's Beijing embassy has been informed of the impending decision. 

Tensions between Paris and Beijing have been fraught since the September 2018 disappearance of Interpol president Meng Hongwei, shortly after he left for China from the international police agency's headquarters in Lyon, southeast France.

After several days with no word on his whereabouts, China disclosed that he had been arrested, and in June a court in northern China revealed that Meng had pleaded guilty to bribery.

His wife Grace and their two children, who have remained in France, were given police protection after she expressed concerns about kidnapping attempts, and later applied for asylum, a request that was granted in May. -AFP

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman denounced the asylum as an "abuse of French legal procedures," while the French Interior Minister declined to comment. 

In June, the Chinese court said that Meng - a former vice minister of public security - pleaded guilty to accepting $2.1 million in bribes between 2005 and 2017. 

Critics of Meng's arrest, however, have suggested that the ex-Interpol chief was caught up in an anti-graft campaign in which they have accused President Xi Jinping of trying to remove his political enemies. 

A few weeks after his disappearance, Interpol was forced to accept Meng's resignation as its first Chinese president.

His wife, Grace, sued the agency last month, saying it had failed to protect her family and was "complicit in the internationally wrongful acts of its member country China." Interpol has rejected the allegations. -AFP

Last year while Meng's whereabouts were unknown, Grace made an emotional appeal - telling journalists in October she had not heard from her husband since September 25 when he sent her a WhatsApp emoji with a knife.