Meng Wanzhou made international headlines when she was arrested in Canada on December 1. The Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of China’s largest private company, smartphone giant Huawei, as well as the daughter of Huawei’s owner Ren Zhengfei, has been released on $10 million bail, but is under 24-hour surveillance and has been required to wear an electronic ankle cuff.
Mang has been accused of conspiring to defraud banks, which has allowed Huawei to get around trade bans in the United States. If she’s found guilty, she can face up to thirty years in jail for each fraud charge she is facing.
Little else is known about Meng, specifically concerning her personal life, since even the identity of her husband was only known as “Mr. Liu” at her bail hearing. Meng and her father Ren have only been well-known in China and internationally in the last decade.
However, as it turns out, Meng and her husband are owners of not only one but two multimillion-dollar properties, she has children living and studying in three different countries, and is a reverse immigrant from Canada to China.
Meng, who also goes by the name Sabrina Meng and Cathy Meng, was appointed as vice chairman of Huawei earlier this year and has been issued no less than seven passports since 2007, three from Hong Kong and four from China.
The US claimed that Meng was a flight risk because of these multiple passports. A letter to Canada from the US Department of Justice read, “In the past 11 years, Meng has been issued no fewer than seven different passports from both China and Hong Kong.”
Records from the US Customs and Border Protection show that Meng had three separate passports that she used to enter the United States 33 different times from 2014 and 2017. One of her sons is said to be studying in Andover, Massachusetts, although she has no record of entering the US since 2017.
Meng started working in Huawei, as a telephone receptionist at the age of 21, and upon getting her master’s degree in accounting in 1999, she moved to the finance department of the company.
By 2011 she was made CFO and has consistently been on Forbes’ list of top Chinese businesswomen for several years.
Documents filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia reveal the life of an exceedingly wealthy family.
While her lawyer, David J. Martin, claims that Meng is not a flight risk because she has “strong roots” in Vancouver, Meng is not actually a Canadian citizen, having reversed her immigration status some years ago.
And while she relinquished her Canadian passport 2009, since then she and her husband bought properties worth millions of dollars in Dunbar and Shaughnessy, two wealthy neighborhoods. The land titles show that they are in the name of Meng’s husband, Liu Xiaozong, a “marketing developer and investor.”
The couple’s property on 28th Avenue bought in 2009 and a three level 3,735-square-foot home is worth US$4.2 million (S $5.8 million). Their other home on Matthews Avenue, purchased just two years ago, is even pricier, with a current valuation of US$12.2 million (S $16.75 million). Furthermore, the evidently unoccupied 8,047-square-foot mansion is currently undergoing massive renovations.
The combined equity value of the two properties is US $10.5 million, which Meng’s lawyer offered as non-cash bail surety to the Canadian courts.
According to BBC World Service Asia-Pacific editor Michael Bristow, Meng and Liu’s lives in Vancouver were not unusual. The city, apparently, “has for some years been a destination of choice for wealthy Chinese people; as a place to live, educate their children, or as an insurance policy against the uncertainties of life back in China.”
And, it is not unusual for wealthy Chinese to also leave China when better opportunities arise back home. Statistics from recent Census reports show that over 40 percent of the heads of millionaire migrant households from China have left to go elsewhere.
Several of Meng’s children, including her 10-year-old daughter with Liu, once studied in Vancouver, but since 2012, they have all been studying in other countries. Liu and the daughter are in Shenzhen. Meng’s 14-year-old son from another marriage lives in Hong Kong with his father.
Apparently, this kind of arrangement is not unusual among rich Chinese families, who send their children abroad to study and are separated from them for long periods of time.
Another fact about Meng emerged after she was arrested, that she is a survivor of thyroid cancer with other health issues to deal with. This was one of the reasons why Meng sought bail, to avoid exacerbating current health conditions.