What you need to know about Chinese tech giant Huawei

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Dec 06, 2018, 01:59 PM IST

File photo. Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

Meng Wanzhou was arrested in the western city of Vancouver on December 1 while transferring flights in Canada.

Days after US and China trade war truce, top executive and daughter of Chinese tech giant Huawei's founder was arrested in Canada on Thursday. She was arrested on the suspicion of violating US sanctions against Iran.

Who is Meng Wanzhou?

Meng Wanzhou is a Chief Financial Officer at Huawei. She is also a daughter of company's founder Ren Zhengfei who is a former Chinese People's Liberation Army engineer. 

She was arrested in the western city of Vancouver on December 1 while transferring flights in Canada. Reports say she was arrested at the request of US authorities. The court will hear the case on Friday.

Why she was arrested?

She was arrested on a suspicion that she violated US sanctions.

The detention comes after American authorities reportedly launched an investigation into suspected Iran sanctions violations by Huawei, which was already under scrutiny by US intelligence officials who deemed the company a national security threat.

US authorities have been probing Huawei since 2016 for allegedly shipping US-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of US export and sanctions laws.

China calls for immediate release

China's embassy in Canada said it resolutely opposed the arrest and called for Meng's immediate release.

"The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim," the embassy said in a statement.

"The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms Meng Wanzhou."

Huawei denies any wrongdoing

Huawei said it was unaware of any wrongdoing by Meng and was provided "very little information" about the charges.

"Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU," the company said in a statement.

US Senator Ben Sasse praised the move and said that it was "for breaking US sanctions against Iran." He added: "Sometimes Chinese aggression is explicitly state-sponsored and sometimes it's laundered through many of Beijing's so-called 'private' sector entities."

Impact on trade war truce

The shock arrest of Men Wanzhou raised fresh doubts over 90-day truce on trade struck between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Reuters quoted Jia Wenshan, a professor at Chapman University in California, saying that the arrest was part of a broader geopolitical strategy from the Trump administration to counter China and it "runs a huge risk of derailing the US-China trade talks".

The arrest is also being closely watched as it occurred on the same day when both presidents struck the trade war truce at a summit in Argentina.

The arrest and any potential sanctions could have major repercussions on the global technology supply chain. Shares in Asian suppliers to Huawei, which also counts Qualcomm Inc and Intel among its major suppliers, tumbled on Thursday.

Huawei is one of the world's largest telecommunications equipment and services providers.

But despite global success, its US business has been tightly constrained by worries it could undermine American competitors and that its cellphones and networking equipment, used widely in other countries, could provide Beijing with avenues for espionage.

In May, the Pentagon said that devices from Huawei and ZTE posed an "unacceptable" security risk. Personnel on US military bases are banned from buying equipment manufactured by the Chinese tech firms.

Over the summer, Australia barred Huawei from providing 5G technology for wireless networks in the country over espionage fears. 

New Zealand followed suit in November but said the issue was a technological one.

Britain's largest mobile provider too has joined the global ban on Huawei. 

On Wednesday, BT announced it was removing Huawei's telecommunications equipment from its 4G cellular network, following a warning from the head of MI6 foreign intelligence service that singled out the Chinese company as a potential security risk.

Despite being essentially barred from the critical US market, Huawei surpassed Apple to become the world's number two smartphone maker in the second quarter of this year.