Huawei heir apparent prepares to live after three years of legal battle in Canada
VANCOUVER, Sept.24 (Reuters) – After being stranded in Canada for nearly three years, largely confined to her multi-million dollar house in Vancouver, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was due to return to China on Friday.
Like many senior Chinese leaders, Meng has remained an enigmatic figure. The chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, 49, had been widely tipped to one day take the head of the technology giant founded by his father.
Appearing to thwart those expectations, Meng was arrested in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S. warrant accusing her of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC Holdings (HSBA.L) about the business dealings of Huawei in Iran.
After Meng reached a deal with U.S. prosecutors to resolve the case on Friday, a Canadian judge canceled his extradition hearing. Read more
The Canadian government later issued a statement confirming that she was free to leave the country. She was due to fly to China later on Friday, according to a source familiar with the matter.
“Over the past three years my life has been turned upside down. It has been a disruptive time for me as a mother, as a wife,” Meng told reporters and supporters on the steps outside the courtroom. of Vancouver after the hearing.
“But I believe that every cloud has a silver lining. It was truly an invaluable experience in my life. I will never forget all the good wishes I received from people all over the world,” he said. she declared.
Meng has generally remained expressionless in her public appearances since her arrest, but on Friday morning she smiled broadly as she left her home to attend a hearing held virtually between Vancouver and Brooklyn, New York.
The detention of Meng, who derives his last name from his mother and also used the English first names “Cathy” and “Sabrina”, has thrown the spotlight on Huawei at a time when the world is increasingly concerned about the technological security.
In dozens of court appearances, her lawyers have described her as an innocent bystander caught in a trade war between the United States and China.
Shortly after his arrest, China detained two Canadians, sentencing one this month to 11 years in prison, a move the Canadians attacked in retaliation. Beijing has denied any connection between the arrests and Meng’s case. Read more
Meng was under house arrest in Vancouver. Under her bail conditions, she was allowed to roam the city during the day and return to her home at night in Shaughnessy, an upscale neighborhood in the Pacific coastal city. She was monitored 24/7 by private security, which she paid for as part of her bond contract.
Her husband, Liu Xiaozong, and the son and daughter they have together were able to visit her during the pandemic. She spent the time with oils, reading and working, according to an open letter to Huawei employees she wrote on the first anniversary of her arrest.
According to Huawei’s website, Meng joined the company in 1993, graduated from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 1998, and rose through the ranks over the years, mostly in financial roles.
She has held positions as director of the international accounting department, financial director of Huawei Hong Kong and chair of the accounting management department, according to the website.
During her first media appearance to the Chinese press in 2013, Meng said she first joined the company as a secretary “whose job it was just to take calls.”
In 2011, she was appointed for the first time to the board of directors. Company insiders describe her as competent and hard-working.
While his brother, Meng Ping, along with his father’s younger brother and current wife all work at Huawei and related companies, none have held such leadership positions.
Meng is widely viewed by Huawei insiders as the likely successor to company founder Ren Zhengfei. Ren, 76, founded the Chinese telecommunications company in 1988 and has largely kept a low profile.
Much of Huawei’s scrutiny stems from Ren’s background with the China People’s Liberation Army (PLA), where he worked as a civil engineer for nearly a decade until he left in 1983. after helping to build his communication network.
Officials from some governments, especially the United States, have expressed concern about his company’s proximity to the Chinese military and government. Huawei has repeatedly insisted that Beijing has no influence on this.
At the time of Meng’s arrest, Huawei’s revenue was split evenly between domestic and international revenue, half of which came from the supply of equipment to telecom operators around the world.
But since then, Western countries have distanced themselves from the Chinese tech giant. In 2019, Huawei was blacklisted for export by then-US President Donald Trump and banned from accessing critical US-sourced technology, which affected its ability to design its own. chips and its components from external vendors.
The ban put Huawei’s handset business under immense pressure, as the company sold its budget smartphone unit to a consortium of agents and resellers in November 2020 to keep it alive.
The company’s consumer sales now represent more than half of its business, with 66% of revenue coming from China, according to its 2020 annual report.
Reporting by Moira Warburton and Sarah Berman in Vancouver; Editing by Denny Thomas, Howard Goller and Sonya Hepinstall
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