Huaweis Meng Wanzhou Steps Closer To U.S.China TechWar Front Line As Chairwoman

Huaweis Meng Wanzhou Steps Closer To U.S.China TechWar Front Line As Chairwoman

HONG KONG. Eighteen months ago, it was emblematic of a wider tech battle between China and the US. He will now lead a Chinese telecommunications company at the forefront of state liberation. Dependence on America for basic technology.

Huawei Technologies Co Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will begin a six-month term as company president on Saturday, a day after the company announced its annual results in Shenzhen, China. The results show a staggering drop in the tech giant's net income last year.

After returning to a high-risk prisoner exchange with Canada, the chief executive's fortunes worsened and he spent nearly three years in Vancouver fighting extradition to the United States over Huawei's alleged violation of Washington's sanctions against Iran. .

His stature puts him in the driver's seat as the company displaces foreign technology, expands into new businesses and expands its supply chain after years of being cut off in the United States. Meng, now a national hero, is a rare figure in China's long-held ambition to acquire critical technology as the United States seeks to manage the rise and rise of nationalism in the country.

At a press conference announcing Huawei's full-year results on Friday, Meng said the company was in good financial shape, adding that "US restrictions are now the new normal and we are returning to normal."

However, while revenues are roughly flat in 2022, the company's net income fell 69% from a year ago to 35.6 billion yuan, or about $5.1 billion. Meng due to increased research. Development costs due to US restrictions.

"It was a low point in Huawei's history," he said. Meng on declining profits.

After returning to China in late 2021, Ms. Meng returned to managing the company's finances, giving speeches and acting as Huawei's ambassador at Chinese events.

At the event in February in a torch-lit hall at Huawei's campus in China, Ms Meng appeared with five other top Huawei executives, including her father and Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei. Men in military uniforms appear on the stage while employees of the Huawei company chant slogans.

Ms. Meng thanked Huawei employees for their work in developing new tools without Western technology, saying the company's R&D efforts were "like pearls."

By connecting them, "friendship shines," he says.

Ren said in February that over the past three years, Huawei has replaced more than 13,000 external parts and more than 4,000 circuit boards. The company still relies on US chip companies for its 4G smartphones and other consumer devices.

As Meng's profile has risen at home, his global role has diminished. he no longer travels the world to meet with heads of state and Huawei's long-distance customers. Mr Wren, 78, remains the most powerful corporate tycoon and the only person with veto power over the private company.

Mr. Ren warned that Huawei is still fighting for survival. Huawei's efforts to encourage new business ventures, with its once-dominant smartphone business in steep decline, will accelerate if the Biden administration moves forward with additional restrictions on the technology, including revoking licenses for US companies to sell to the company.

Bill Plummer, Huawei's former U.S. chief executive, said Mr Ren once insisted his sons could not run the company he founded 35 years ago, but Mr Meng's promotion clearly positions him to take over from his father. Meng

"It's strange, but three years of house arrest really helped," he said.

A Huawei spokesperson said that Meng will serve as president for six months. Two other senior Huawei executives also share the role of rotating chairman with Ms. Meng.

Meng was arrested in December 2018 by Canadian authorities during a stopover in Vancouver during a worldwide business trip en route to South America. He was wanted by the United States on charges of bank fraud related to the illegal sale of Huawei telecommunications equipment to Iran. The United States has long viewed Huawei as a security threat, fearing the Chinese government could use its telecommunications equipment to spy on the West, which Huawei denies.

His arrest and the subsequent detention of two Canadians in China in what was seen as retaliation sparked a three-way diplomatic row that culminated in the largest prisoner exchange since the Cold War in September 2021. Ms Meng agreed to plead guilty in exchange for the US dropping charges last December.

Although Huawei has met with US officials and hopes to one day win major contracts there, it is currently out of business and out of touch with other major Western powers. Steady annual revenue growth stalled in 2021 when the company reported a 29% drop in sales.

Ms. Meng has been at industry events in China in recent months, including in December at China Mobile Ltd. at the telecom partner conference and the China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November.


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In September, Meng gave a speech at his father's middle school in the rural town of Duyun in southwest China's mountainous Guizhou Province. Recalling his early days in Huawei's finance department, he said he and another accountant manually reconciled the company's financial records every month, according to transcripts of speeches posted on the school's social media account.

He said Huawei faces unprecedented challenges and is trying to attract global talent to overcome US restrictions on the company's access to foreign technology.

"This unpretentious spirit will never go out of style," he says.

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