Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is one of China’s most important women

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is one of China’s most important women

December 7, 2018

The Chinese ‘Princess’ at the centre of an international incident: How publicity-shy Huawei heiress became one of China’s most important women – while her 20-year-old half-sister became a ballerina debutante

  • Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO, is the daughter of Chinese tycoon Ren Zhengfei
  • She worked her way up in her father’s company from a front desk operator
  • Despite her father’s immense wealth, little is known about the 46-year-old
  • Her half-sister, Annabel Yao, was presented at the Bal des Débutantes last month

The chief financial officer of telecom giant Huawei who was arrested in Canada last Saturday is one of the most powerful yet mysterious women in China.  

Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟), 46, is the daughter and eldest child of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei (任正非), 74, by his first wife Meng Jun.

She is widely assumed to be the heiress of her former Communist soldier father, who founded the world’s current second largest smartphone seller at the age of 43 with 21,000 yuan (£2,388) raised funds.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou (left), 46, who was arrested in Canada last Saturday, is the daughter of Chinese telecom tycoon Ren Zhengfei (right), 74, by his first wife Meng Jun

Sisters: Compared to her sibling Annabel Yao (left), 20, who is a glamorous ballerina and debutante, Ms Meng is notoriously publicity-shy and only accepted her first interview in 2013

A picture on Annabel Yao’s Instagram account shows the Harvard student striking a ballet pose

  • Siberian tigers become ‘tubby tabbies’ after their appetite…

    ‘Racist Park’ and ‘F**k Vegetables’: Beijing set to remove…

    The dark side of a Disney fairy tale: Undercover…

    Mother who reported her son missing has actually hidden him…

Share this article

Some three decades later, her father has become one of China’s richest men, who is worth £2.6 billion according to Forbes. He is the CEO and Chairman of Huawei. 

Meanwhile, Ms Meng, who is also the Vice-Chairman of Huawei, is ranked No. 12 by Forbes on the list of China’s most outstanding businesswomen this year. 

Her father’s company, which in August beat Apple to become the world’s second largest smartphone maker after South Korea’s Samsung, raked in 603.6 billion yuan (£68.7 billion) revenue last year.

But compared to her glamorous 20-year-old half-sister, a ballerina who performed the opening waltz at this year’s debutante in Paris, Ms Meng is notoriously publicity-shy.

In fact, Ms Meng, whose given name means ‘late boat’ in Chinese, gave her first ever public interview aged 41 in 2013 – two decades after she started working for her father. She had just been appointed as the company’s CFO two years earlier.

Ms Meng worked her way up in her billionaire father’s company from a front desk operator

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (left) and Meng Wanzhou (right) attend a session of the VTB Capital Investment Forum ‘Russia Calling!’ in Moscow, Russia, on October 2 in 2014

Putin greets Ms Meng who was the Executive Board Director of Huawei at the time

The firstborn of Mr Ren, Ms Meng graduated from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in central China’s Wuhan city. 

She took a position at Huawei’s front desk in 1993 to answer phone calls after having worked in the China Construction Bank for a year, according to Chinese media. 

It is said that when she first joined the company, few of her colleagues knew she was the Chairman’s daughter. Furthermore, she allegedly described her job as ‘trivial’ and ‘exhausting’ in an internal publication.

In the same article, Ms Meng said she left Huawei temporarily in 1997 and spent the next year and a half getting a Master’s degree in accounting. And afterwards she returned to Huawei’s financial department, she wrote her career at the company officially began, a Chinese article said.

Ms Meng’s career at Huawei wasn’t smooth sailing.   

‘She was actually at one point criticised by her father and being suppressed from promotion,’ Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Asian Research, told Vancouver Sun. 

‘That was a well-known story and she eventually proved herself and moved herself up in the ranks,’ he added. 

Over the years, Ms Meng worked as the director of the international accounting department, CFO of Huawei’s Hong Kong branch office, president of the accounts management department and brought Huawei to its current success.

Ms Meng has a different surname to her father, a practice rarely seen in China where families put great importance in their name and bloodline.

There are various rumours as to why Ms Meng didn’t take the surname Ren. 

One version says Ms Meng changed her own surname at the age of 16. 

Another version claims Mr Ren named his two eldest children – Ms Meng and her younger brother – after his first wife’s family out of respect for his wife’s father, Meng Dongbo, who was a deputy provincial governor with impressive political connections. 

Rumour has it that Mr Ren’s business took off in China because of the powerful family background of his first wife. 

Mr Ren (pictured), who was born in rural China to teacher parents, founded the world’s current second largest smartphone seller with 21,000 yuan (£2,388) raised funds in 1987. He is seen speaking during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 22, 2015

Mr Ren (left) and his staff pose for a picture with Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre) at Huawei’s office in London during Xi’s state visit to the United Kingdom on October 21, 2015

Born in rural Guizhou to parents who were teachers, Mr Ren’s path to great fortune remains largely unclear in his homeland. 

He studied in an architectural and engineering colleague in the city of Chongqing in 1963 and joined the Chinese Liberation Army in 1974 as a combat engineer in order to built a fiber factory in north-east using French technologies. 

He retired from the army in 1983 after the central government decided to restructure its industries. After four unhappy years at a petroleum company, Mr Ren founded Huawei.

Mr Ren’s military background has led many to speculate that Huawei gained business success through its connection with Chinese army and government, but the company has firmly denied the allegations. 

The tycoon has had three wives. He and his second wife, Yao Ling, have a daughter named Annabel Yao. 

Annabel Yao (pictured), Mr Ren’s youngest daughter, is a ballerina and Harvard student

The 20-year-old was presented at the 25th annual Bal des Débutantes in Paris on November 24

According to South China Morning Post, Annabel who also took her mother’s family name is a ballerina and Harvard computer science student. She is extremely international and is said to have lived in Britain, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

She was one of the 19 young women to be presented at the 25th annual Bal des Débutantes held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris on November 24.

Annabel wore a cream-coloured J Mendel dress and was escorted by a Belgian prince. She was also chosen to perform the opening waltz alongside two other debutantes.

Mr Ren’s current and third wife, Su Wei, is less than half his age, according to Chinese media. 

Source: Read Full Article