Canada’s arrest — reportedly at the request of the U.S. government — of Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou has put a spotlight on one of China’s most successful high-tech companies. Huawei has stirred fears throughout the West over its technological prowess and close ties to the government and to China’s military hierarchy. A few key facts about the case:
The private company, based in China’s tech hub of Shenzhen near Hong Kong, is the world’s largest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies and recently surpassed Apple as the second biggest maker of cellphones after South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. The company, founded in 1987 by former military engineer Ren Zhengfei, who is Ms. Meng’s father, has 170,000 employees worldwide and does business in more than 170 countries.
Business with Iran
Huawei’s business in Iran grew after Western companies withdrew to protest a crackdown on demonstrators in 2009. In April of this year, China appealed to the U.S. government after reports said the Trump administration was investigating whether Huawei had violated U.S. trade sanctions on Iran. The reports did not say what the suspicions were.
Huawei and ZTE
Huawei and China-based ZTE Corp. have faced trouble over their dealings with Iran and fears that the Chinese companies’ equipment might be used for spying. ZTE was nearly driven out of business this year when Washington briefly barred it from buying U.S. technology over exports to North Korea and Iran. Huawei has the biggest R&D budget of any Chinese company and a vast portfolio of patents, making it less dependent on American suppliers.
It’s unclear exactly what charges Ms. Meng could face if she is extradited to the United States. Security concerns have hampered Huawei’s business in the U.S. and countries such as Australia and New Zealand as acquisitions were rejected and companies warned not to source network equipment from Huawei or ZTE because of security concerns.