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Tech Here's everything you need to know about Huawei, the Chinese tech giant whose founder's daughter was arrested and could spark an all-out trade war

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Huawei's CFO was arrested in Canada at the request of the US. Here's what you need to know, and why the situation could escalate Trump's trade war.

Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei. play

Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.

(Huawei)

  • Huawei, a Chinese tech giant, is making headlines after one of its top executives, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada at the request of the US this week.
  • Huawei is the second-largest smartphone maker in the world, behind only Samsung.
  • Meng was reportedly arrested on suspicion of violating US trade law by exporting products from the US to sanctioned countries like Iran.
  • The arrest could have bigger implications for Huawei, whose practices have been the subject of a yearslong federal investigation, as well as for the escalating trade war between US and China.
  • Here's what you need to know about Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, and the events leading up to this incident.

Authorities in Canada have arrested the chief financial officer of the Chinese company Huawei, reportedly on suspicion of violating US trade sanctions on Iran.

For Americans, Huawei may not be a familiar name. But the tech giant is actually the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, behind only Samsung, after recently pulling ahead of Apple.

This incident threatens to have major implications on the relationship between the US and China, which has already ordered Canada to "immediately release" Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Here's what you need to know about Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, and how this arrest could escalate the US trade war with China.

Huawei is a massive tech company producing telecommunications services, enterprise tech, and consumer devices, like smartphones. The company sells its products in more than 70 countries.

Huawei surpassed Apple to become the second biggest smartphone seller this year. play

Huawei surpassed Apple to become the second biggest smartphone seller this year.

(Shutterstock)

Source: Huawei



The company raked in almost $93 billion in sales last year, which puts it about on par with Microsoft. Huawei is the largest maker of telecommunications equipment in the world and the world's second-largest smartphone manufacturer behind Samsung.

The Huawei Mate 20 smartphone. play

The Huawei Mate 20 smartphone.

(Shona Ghosh/Business Insider)

Source: Business Insider, Forbes



Huawei was founded by Ren Zhengfei in 1987, and he still serves as an executive in the company. Before Huawei, Ren worked as an engineer for China's military, the People's Liberation Army.

Ren. play

Ren.

(Dmitry Lovetsky)

Ren is known internally as a philosopher entrepreneur, fond of proverbs and symbolism.

Source: Huawei



One example of Ren's philosophical bent: There are several black swans that roam the company's headquarters and swim in a special lake.

One example of Ren's philosophical bent: There are several black swans that roam the company's headquarters and swim in a special lake. play

One example of Ren's philosophical bent: There are several black swans that roam the company's headquarters and swim in a special lake.

(louise crusoe / Flickr)

The black swans are there to represent "non-complacency within the corporate culture."



Huawei's headquarters is located in Shenzhen, China. While the company has an estimated 180,000 employees worldwide, it has 60,000 employees at its main campus alone.

Shenzhen, China. play

Shenzhen, China.

(Shutterstock)

Source: CNBC



Huawei smartphones are wildly popular around the world, and they often beat out iPhone sales because they're cheap and powerful.

Huawei smartphones are wildly popular around the world, and they often beat out iPhone sales because they're cheap and powerful. play

Huawei smartphones are wildly popular around the world, and they often beat out iPhone sales because they're cheap and powerful.

(Shona Ghosh/Business Insider)

Source: Business Insider



The company has tried to expand into the US market, but a possible distribution deal with AT&T fell through in January. The company hasn't yet found another carrier wanting to partner, which may be in part because of pressure from US officials who distrust Chinese companies. This has limited Huawei's footprint in America.

The company has tried to expand into the US market, but a possible distribution deal with AT&T fell through in January. The company hasn't yet found another carrier wanting to partner, which may be in part because of pressure from US officials who distrust Chinese companies. This has limited Huawei's footprint in America. play

The company has tried to expand into the US market, but a possible distribution deal with AT&T fell through in January. The company hasn't yet found another carrier wanting to partner, which may be in part because of pressure from US officials who distrust Chinese companies. This has limited Huawei's footprint in America.

(Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke)

Source: Business Insider



US lawmakers have long seen Huawei as a security threat, thanks to the company's ties to the Chinese government. Some have floated the theory that Huawei's phones and electronics are used to spy on US government officials. Huawei has consistently denied these allegations.

US lawmakers have long seen Huawei as a security threat, thanks to the company's ties to the Chinese government. Some have floated the theory that Huawei's phones and electronics are used to spy on US government officials. Huawei has consistently denied these allegations. play

US lawmakers have long seen Huawei as a security threat, thanks to the company's ties to the Chinese government. Some have floated the theory that Huawei's phones and electronics are used to spy on US government officials. Huawei has consistently denied these allegations.

(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Source: Business Insider



US concerns over Huawei go beyond cybersecurity, however. Federal officials have reportedly been investigating the Chinese company since 2016 for allegedly shipping products from the US to Iran — which would be a violation of US trading laws and sanctions.

But security concerns persisted. In 2012, two German engineers announced they had discovered critical vulnerabilities in Huawei routers , also noting how Huawei "doesn't have a security contact for reporting vulnerabilities, doesn't put out security advisories, and doesn't say what bugs have been fixed in its firmware updates." play

But security concerns persisted. In 2012, two German engineers announced they had discovered critical vulnerabilities in Huawei routers, also noting how Huawei "doesn't have a security contact for reporting vulnerabilities, doesn't put out security advisories, and doesn't say what bugs have been fixed in its firmware updates."

(REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

Source: Reuters



Trade relations between US and China were already on shaky ground before the arrest of Huawei's CFO. The two governments have been locked in a trade war, and both have imposed billions of dollars' worth of tariffs on key imports.

President Trump and China President Xi Jinping. play

President Trump and China President Xi Jinping.

(Oliver Contreras/Getty; Greg Baker/Getty; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider)

Source: Business Insider



This week, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested. She joined Huawei in 1993, and she now serves as the company's chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman of the executive board. She also happens to be the daughter of Huawei's founder.

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. play

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.

(Huawei)

Source: Huawei



Meng was arrested in Canada at the request of the US. Reports have said she was arrested on suspicion of violating US trade sanctions, which would align with the federal investigation into Huawei. US officials are seeking to extradite her.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. play

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

(REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Source: Business Insider



Meng's arrest is already escalating tensions between the US and China, coming right as leaders on both sides looked like they were going to come to some kind of agreement. This is being taken by experts as a signal of the Trump administration's hard line on trade relations with China.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. play

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

(Associated Press/Andy Wong)

Source: Business Insider