Huawei's arrest 2: Meng Wanzhou, one of China's most influential women

Huawei's arrest 2: Meng Wanzhou, one of China's most influential women

By attacking Meng Wanzhou, the financial director of Huawei, the US justice seeking his extradition targets the highest spheres of Chinese political and industrial nomenklatura. This probably explains why Beijing was quick to ask for explanations about the conditions and reasons for this arrest.

Aged 46, a graduate in management from the University of Science and Technology Huazhong, Meng Wanzhou is not only the financial arm of a giant telecom. It is also the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, one of the most influential men in China.

A former army officer, he is also a member of the Chinese Communist Party since the early 1980s. An influence that rhymes with discretion. He rarely gives interviews. He nevertheless agreed to come out of his silence a few weeks ago by receiving journalists from Paris Match for a photo shoot intended to highlight his youngest daughter. Aged 21 and daughter of the second wife of Ren Zhengfei, she participated this year in the Beginners' Ball, in Paris.

In addition to benefiting from his father's address book, Meng Wanzhou can also count on the networks that exist on the maternal side. She does not bear the name of her father. After the divorce of her parents, she preferred to keep the name of her mother. She, the first wife of Ren Zhenfei with whom she also had a boy, is the daughter of a former vice governor of Sichuan Province.

A key role in the development of Huawei

Entering the paternal group in 1993 as a receptionist, Meng Wanzhou began working for the group's financial department in 1998. She joined Huawei's board of directors in 2011.

She was promoted to Vice President of Hauwei earlier this year, during a reorganization that could prepare her father, who is now 74 years old and has taken a few steps away. Although he has often said that he is not a member of his family who will succeed him and has established a system of rotating presidency among the members of his board of directors.

As discreet as he is in the media, but accustomed to speaking at conferences, she played a key role in Huawei's development. In 2003 and globally, it was the group's financial structures that were put in place. And would be a member of the boards of a dozen companies related to Huawei.

Do not have your hands and feet tied

It remains to be seen whether Washington's accusations against her are justified. We know little about his management style. But, according to internal documents cited by the South China Morning Post, Meng Whanzhou was not against the idea of ​​distancing himself from the law and the duties and rules of conduct that are imposed on him. the company.

This is what emerges from the transcript of an internal seminar on compliance she attended at the end of October with her father. According to these documents, she thus stated that there were cases in which the company can accept to take risks in relation to the law.

Still according to the Hong Kong daily, she then spoke of three scenarios. A first where there are "red lines" that can not be overridden. A second with "yellow lines" for which there is room for maneuver. Especially in the field of labor legislation. And a third in which it is in theory "totally impossible" to derogate from the law, but where it is sometimes possible "to accept temporarily not to comply with the rules".

Referring to the rules imposed by Washington, his father would have been even more direct. And would have asked the question of their respect in these terms: "We can not restrain ourselves just because the United States is attacking us. If we have our hands and feet tied, we will not be able to produce, and then we will wonder what is the point of compliance. However, there is nothing to suggest that Washington's accusations that Huawei has failed to comply with the embargo against Iran are well founded.

Claude Fouquet

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