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A Child of China’s Gilded Elite Strikes a Nerve Over Wealth and Privilege

Singer? Dancer? Model? The documentary doesn’t really make it clear.

“I don’t think she will influence society,” Ms. Hung said in a telephone interview. “I think she’s way more influenced by Chinese society, especially the internet world. She just confirmed what the Chinese public expects out of rich kids in China.”

Ms. Yao is the youngest of three children of Ren Zhengfei, the hard-charging leader of Huawei, who has been compared to Steve Jobs for his role in building a company prized in China for its ability to compete with big multinational telecommunications companies like Cisco, Nokia and Ericsson.

Ms. Meng and a half brother, Ren Ping, are the children of Mr. Ren’s first marriage. The son is the president of Huawei subsidiaries that own hotels and import food and wine.

Huawei has become the focal point of a geopolitical battle between China and the United States as the Trump administration has sought to curtail the country’s technological advances. Ms. Meng, who was for years the public face of the company, was detained in Canada in 2018 on an arrest warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of financial fraud related to evading sanctions against Iran.

Ms. Meng’s fate throughout what has turned into a long extradition process has soured views toward the United States. Chinese officials have portrayed her as an innocent victim of a highly politicized case to damage the company.

Public sympathy for the Huawei dynasty, however, slipped badly after a company employee was jailed for 251 days; he had sued the company for a bonus and was jailed for disclosing commercial secrets, though the charges were eventually dropped. It was a story that brought to the fore the concerns of a middle class increasingly facing economic hardship for the first time after decades of explosive economic growth.

Ms. Yao, the daughter from Mr. Ren’s second marriage, unquestionably grew up in privilege, perhaps more than her older half-siblings. She traveled widely, living in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Britain, according to her own biographical descriptions. Her globe-trotting was such that she recently had to fend off the Chinese news media’s questions about her nationality, saying she was born in Kunming, a city in southern China and carries a Chinese passport.

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