FAQ on Huawei Technologies, the Chinese firm whose CFO has been arrested

Washington Post

Canadian authorities on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of the Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies, while she was in Vancouver on Saturday. Meng now faces possible extradition to the United States on charges that could relate to suspected violations of U.S. trade sanctions on Iran, according to law enforcement sources cited by Canadian media.

China has called for her release. Meng's arrest comes at a sensitive time for U.S.-China ties. She was detained Saturday, just as President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss trade tension between the world's two largest economies.

Here is what you need to know about the company at the heart of the case.

Q: Huawei sells more smartphones than Apple?

A: That's right.

Huawei recently surpassed Apple as the world's second-largest supplier of cellphones globally. It topped Apple in units shipped for the second quarter, sending 54.2 million smartphone models (a 15 percent worldwide market share) compared with 41.3 million iPhones (about a 12 percent share), according to August data released by the research firms IDC, Canalys and IHS Markit. The market battle between Apple and Huawei could seesaw quarter by quarter in the future. But South Korea's Samsung still holds the top spot by a significant margin.

Q: What else does Huawei do?

A: It is the world's largest supplier of the network equipment used by phone and internet companies.

Huewei, which is privately held, was founded in southern China in the late 1980s by a former military officer, Ren Zhengfei, who is Meng's father. In the years since, the company's growth has tracked China's emergence as an economic superpower.

Today, Huawei has 170,000 employees operating in 170 countries.

Q: Why isn't Huawei better known in the United States?

A: Though Huawei is a leading player in telecommunications, it is not a household name in the United States. To a large extent, that is because U.S. lawmakers have viewed the company with suspicion and moved to curb its presence on U.S. soil.

Huawei's U.S. trouble started in 2012, when lawmakers issued a report warning that the company's equipment could be used to spy on Americans. Since then, major U.S. telecoms have for the most part steered clear of the firm. The company and Chinese leaders deny the U.S. claims.

It didn't stop there. Both the Commerce and Treasury departments subpoenaed the company over possible violations of U.S. sanction laws. Earlier this year, AT&T walked away from a deal to sell Huawei cellphones to U.S. customers.

But the company does have a U.S. presence. Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of 26 lawmakers wrote Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to raise concerns about the Chinese firm's research partnerships with dozens of American colleges and universities.

Q: So how how do I say it?

A: For native English speakers, the company's name does not roll off the tongue. An easy, if imperfect, way to think of it is: "wah-way."

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