Meng Wanzhou, Chief Finance Officer of smartphone maker Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver, Canada on December 1. Meng is also deputy chair of the company, as well as the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei. She is now facing extradition to the United States.
While details of the arrest have not been disclosed, save for the fact that Meng was detained in Canada when she transferred flights, her arrest is most likely in connection with the US’ investigation of Huawei, over possible violations of the sanctions against Iran.
In Canada, the Chinese embassy has asked for Meng’s release, saying “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.”
As for the company, Huawei has said it is “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng.”
The arrest of Meng, which occurs at a time of trade tensions between China and the United States, could have implications on the tariff truce agreed upon by Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump in Argentina at the G20 Leaders Summit last weekend.
The Ministry of Justice of Canada said that Meng “is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday.” This was the only information released, since Meng had asked for, and received, a ban on the publication of details. The US Department of Justice has declined to comment on the situation.
The Chinese smartphone company has been in the news lately ever since reports emerged that Huawei is being investigated for possible violations of US sanctions against Iran. The US has said that Huawei’s technology has been used by the government of China for spying, and is, therefore, a threat to national security in the US.
US Senator Ben Sasse said, “Americans are grateful that our Canadian partners have arrested the chief financial officer,” in response to the arrest.
Huawei released a statement saying that it has complied 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 believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.”
Huawei, which this year surpassed Apple to become the second-biggest smartphone maker after Samsung, is one of the biggest telecommunications equipment and services providers around the globe.
Certain governments in the West are concerned that through Huawei, China will be given access to 5G mobile networks and therefore broaden its ability to spy on them.
Huawei has denied this. However, the company’s equipment is now banned in New Zealand and Australia, over national security issues. British company BT also said that it will not be using equipment from Huawei for its 5G networks in the UK.