Ar­rested Huawei ex­ec­u­tive’s epic rise

The West Australian - - WORLD -

Meng Wanzhou has been groomed for decades to join the ranks of China’s busi­ness roy­alty.

She started on the switch­board of her fa­ther’s com­pany, Huawei Tech­nolo­gies.

So be­gan a quiet, but steady, rise that was widely viewed as a bot­tom-to-top ap­pren­tice­ship to one day take the helm of Huawei from her fa­ther, Ren Zhengfei.

Ms Meng’s care­fully built world is now caught in a show­down be­tween China and the US with po­ten­tial eco­nomic and diplo­matic ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

Ms Meng was set to ap­pear in court yesterday in Van­cou­ver, Canada, for a bail hear­ing af­ter be­ing ar­rested while chang­ing planes last Satur­day.

US pros­e­cu­tors have been in­ves­ti­gat­ing since 2016 whether Huawei vi­o­lated US ex­port and sanc­tions laws by ship­ping USo­ri­gin prod­ucts to Iran.

The spe­cific tar­get­ing of Ms Meng, the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, rather than the com­pany in gen­eral, has raised spec­u­la­tion by some trade an­a­lysts that the case could cast a shadow over at­tempts by Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton to end their trade bat­tles.

On Thurs­day, China sent twin mes­sages: de­mand­ing Ms Meng’s re­lease but ex­press­ing hope the in­ci­dent would not de­rail mo­men­tum on trade talks started by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping last week.

In many ways, Ms Meng’s fam­ily story ex­em­pli­fies the Chi­nese dream.

Her fa­ther was born into a poor fam­ily in the re­mote, ru­ral prov­ince of Guizhou in 1944 and was ini­tially de­nied en­try to the Com­mu­nist Party be­cause of his fam­ily’s poor po­lit­i­cal stand­ing.

He was fi­nally ad­mit­ted while he was do­ing his mil­i­tary ser­vice in 1978, two years af­ter the end of the Cul­tural Rev­o­lu­tion.

He started Huawei in 1987 with the equiv­a­lent of $3000.

Now 74, the founder had been widely seen as plan­ning to one day hand control to his eldest daugh­ter, who also uses the English name Sab­rina Meng.

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