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

Paige Leskin
  • 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.

Source: Huawei

The company raked in almost $US93 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.

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 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.

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.

Source: CNBC

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Source: Business Insider