In 1993, many years before Huawei became an international telecommunications giant, a young high-school dropout named Meng Wanzhou started work for the company as a secretary. She typed, planned trade show exhibits and answered the phone.
The daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, Ms. Meng would go on to become the chief financial officer and deputy chair of the biggest private company in China, with 180,000 employees. On 5th December 2018, she was arrested upon landing in Vancouver, by Canadian authorities.
“Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1. She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday,” said Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod. “As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms. Meng.”
Her arrest in Vancouver and possible extradition to the United States for allegedly violating the American embargo on Iran has made her the subject of international attention, as one of the highest-profile figures caught in the increasingly tense relationship between China and the United States.
Her arrest provoked fury in China, with the government voicing strong opposition to her detention while online commentators called her a martyr for a company that has become a source of national pride. It also raised warnings that Canada can expect to pay a price for arresting her.
Huawei is “the hope and pride of high-tech companies in the hearts of Chinese people,” said Gao Huazhi, chief executive of Jiangsu Tongliang International, which imports Canadian agricultural products. Because the Canadian government has caused her to “lose her freedom,” it will see a “force of resistance unlike any it has ever seen before,” he said.
Ms. Meng’s role in Huawei’s corporate leadership went largely unremarked until recent years. She did not make a public appearance for the company until 2011.
But her family connection and lengthy term of service underscore the foundational role she has played in the leadership of a company that has come to occupy a central place in the debate over Chinese technology in the Western world.
And Ms. Meng, who is 46, has become an important Chinese voice, both on the global stage – appearing on panels next to figures such as Ben Bernanke, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve – and in giving a positive face to a company whose immense growth has been accompanied by suspicion about the security of its technology.
Regarding Meng’s arrest, Huawei said that “The company has been provided with very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng. The company believes the Canadian and U.S. legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.”
The Chinese company also added that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws.”
Furthermore, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa also protested Meng’s arrest demanding her immediate release given that Huawei’s CFO did not violate American or Canadian laws.
The embassy also added in its official protest statement that Meng’s human rights were also seriously harmed and committed to taking all the necessary measures to protect the interests and rights of Chinese citizens.
“Huawei has direct ties to the Chinese government and Communist Party, has long posed a serious risk to US national security, and I continue to strongly urge Canada to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of its 5G development, introduction, and maintenance,” told Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee to The Globe.
U.S. started an all-out campaign trying to persuade its allies to also give up on acquiring telecom equipment from Huawei Technologies Co amid worries regarding potential worries of Chinese meddling in 5G networking tech at the end of November 2018.