Sun Yafang

Chairwoman, Huawei | China

For reigning over the Chinese company suspected of cyber-spying in the United States.

Huawei, the world’s leading vendor of telecom infrastructure, with annual sales topping $46 billion, has been a private company since its founding in 1987. But Beijing has sent billions of dollars Huawei’s way for research over the years, and an October 2012 U.S. House of Representatives report argues that where state influence exists, so do the opportunities and incentives for snooping on American targets.

Sun Yafang, the chairwoman of Huawei's board, has done little to alter that public perception. Although she gives speeches, no record exists of a public interview with Sun, either in Chinese or in English, since she assumed the chairwomanship in 1999. Known facts about Sun are scant: She is in her 50s, and joined Huawei in 1989. Sun’s media shyness is a shame, and not just because suspicions of cyber-espionage by Huawei and other Chinese corporations have been a major sticking point in U.S.-China relations for the past several years. It also means that Chinese don’t get to hear more from their country’s most powerful corporate woman in a nation where — like the United States — most corporate bosses are men.