They sound like the opening lines of jokes. “A journalist, an actress, and a policeman” or “A journalist walks into a consulate” but the stories of Fan Bingbing, China’s most popular movie star, Meng Hongwai, the president of Interpol, and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, all of whom have just disappeared, are not funny.
Maybe they all just ran away, the actress to enjoy her ill-gotten gains in seclusion, the policeman to evade the long arm of the law, and the journalist just because. Maybe they’ll all reappear. I suspect that the lesson of Fan Bingbing and Meng Hongwai is that it doesn’t pay to be too noticed in Xi’s China and that of Jamal Khashoggi that if Mohammed bin Salman wants you dead, you’ll get dead but I can’t really know. Autocrats gotta autocrat.