What you need to know about Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese tech founder’s daughter whose arrest could set fire to US-China relations

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.

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Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.
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REUTERS/Alexander Bibik

  • Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was recently detained on suspicion of violating US trade sanctions, for which the company has long been under federal investigation.
  • Meng serves as the chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman of the board at the Chinese tech company and is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder.
  • Her arrest has sparked outrage from Chinese officials, who have demanded that the US release Meng or face “grave consequences.”
  • Here’s a helpful primer on the Huawei executive and her career.

Chinese officials have threatened the US with “grave consequences” if the “extremely egregious” arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive at one of its biggest tech companies, isn’t reversed. Meng was detained, at the request of the US, on suspicion of violating Iran trade sanctions.

The potential implications of this arrest, which took place on December 1 in Canada, on the tense trade war between the US and China has thrust the popular Chinese smartphone company Huawei into the spotlight. But Meng, the Huawei executive at the center of the controversy, is still very much an unknown for most people.

Not only does Meng occupy a top position at a multibillion-dollar company, but she is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei. The 46-year-old chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman of the board has risen through the ranks of the company since she joined Huawei in 1993, even as her father has reportedly denied rumors that Meng would eventually take over as CEO of Huawei.

Here’s what you need to know about Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou:


Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, and his first wife, Meng Jun. She is one of Ren’s two daughters — the second, Annabel Yao, came from Ren’s second of three marriages.

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Meng’s father, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei.
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REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Source: South China Morning Post


Meng was born in 1972 in Chengdu, China. Her family moved south in the 1980s to Shenzhen, a city that is now home to Huawei’s headquarters.

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Shenzhen, China.
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Shutterstock

Source: New York Times


Meng also goes by Cathy or Sabrina, and she took on her mother’s maiden name (Meng) at a young age. The 46-year-old, who holds a master’s degree in accounting from China’s Huazhong University, joined Huawei not long after graduating college.

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Huawei

Source: Bloomberg


Meng first started at Huawei in 1993 answering phones. Since then, she has worked her way up through the company’s finance department to her position as chief financial officer. Meng also serves as deputy chairwoman on Huawei’s board of directors, replacing her father — who previously held the position — in March 2018.

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Shutterstock

Source: CNN, Business Insider


Meng has four children and is married to Liu Xiaozong, a businessman who worked at Huawei for several years. The couple owns two homes in Vancouver, Canada, that have a combined value of more than $20 million. She’s reportedly willing to take mortgages out on the properties to pay for her bail.

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One of the homes reportedly owned by Meng’s family in Vancouver, Canada.
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Reuters

Source: Bloomberg, CASE


Meng reportedly suffers from many health issues that her lawyers have said could worsen while she’s detained, according to court documents. The CFO is a thyroid-cancer survivor who has hypertension, trouble sleeping, difficulty eating solid foods, and relies on daily drug treatments. Because of these health issues, Meng’s lawyers are seeking bail.

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A drawing of Meng during her bail hearing on December 7 in British Columbia’s Supreme Court.
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Reuters/Jane Wolsak

Source: Bloomberg


Meng was arrested in Canada on December 1 and faces extradition to the US. Prosecutors said Meng covered up Huawei’s links to a company that tried to sell equipment to Iran, violating US trade sanctions.

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News-media outlets gathered outside the British Columbia Supreme Court ahead of Meng’s bail hearing.
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Reuters/David Ryder

Source: Business Insider


Meng’s rise through the rankings of Huawei’s leadership led many to speculate that Ren, the company’s founder, was grooming his daughter to someday take the helm as CEO. However, Ren dashed any hopes of that in an internal email from 2013, in which he wrote “none of my family members possess these qualities,” and they “will never be included in the sequence of successors.”

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Ren.
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Dmitry Lovetsky

Source: Bloomberg