December 6, 2018 // 10:55 a.m.
Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer and deputy chair of communications technology specialist Huawei, has been arrested, apparently over accusations that she attempted to circumvent US trade embargoes against the nation of Iran.
While the name Huawei - pronounced 'wah-way' - is most commonly associated with smartphone devices which occasionally cheat their way to the top of the benchmark tables, the company has fingers in a number of mobile and telecommunications technology pies: As well as producing networking gear, the company's HiSilicon division designs its own system-on-chip (SoC) parts, most recently the Kirin 980.
The company has been rocked this week, however, by the arrest of its chief financial officer and deputy chair of its board Meng Wanzhou, daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei. In a report by The Globe and Mail, which came despite a publication ban in force in the US under Meng's request, an anonymous source claims the arrest came at the behest of US authorities over allegations that Meng had attempted to bypass the US trade embargo against Iran, though full details of the accusations have not been published.
'The company has been provided with very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng,' a Huawei spokesperson told the paper, claiming that they have only been informed of 'unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York' being filed against her. 'The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.'
The Chinese government, via its Ottawa embassy, has protested the arrest, claiming Meng has violated no US or Canadian laws. The US government, meanwhile, has not commented on the arrest nor on its request for Meng to be extradited from Canada to the US.
Meng's arrest comes at a troubling time for Huawei: The company, which has close ties to the Chinese government, is currently facing a backlash against its communications network products, with bans against tendering and even the removal of existing network equipment from UK, US, and New Zealand national networks, over fears that it has inserted backdoors which allow the Chinese security services to snoop on traffic in foreign networks.