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Daughter of Huawei Founder Dragged Online Over Debut Pop Single

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Annabel Yao, the youngest daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, released her debut single, “Back Fire,” today (watch below).

The Harvard graduate and accomplished ballet dancer became the subject of conversation on China’s microblogging site Weibo last week after the release of a 17-minute documentary about her life, her family and her dream of becoming a singer. Yao is the daughter of the Huawei founder from his second marriage.

That documentary, from her label TH Entertainment, was widely criticized on the Chinese internet, with many suggesting that the Huawei scion was signed because of her wealth.

Her first single “Back Fire” does not do much to assuage naysayers on that front. Promotional material for the release, as well as lyrics on the track, make much of her image as a glamorous “princess,” with a poster accompanying the aforementioned documentary describing Yao as a “princess who breaks rules.”

Yao also sings lines such as, “Such a princess, don’t make me man up,” and “cute and dainty, I just got my nails done / messing around with you, I’m about to break one.” The track has already attracted the ire of Chinese social media users, with one Weibo user writing, “This sound is very uncomfortable to hear.” Another commented on Yao’s privileged upbringing with a withering assessment: “Can’t sing, can’t dance, but if you have money…”

Yao announced her signing with TH Entertainment last week, saying that it was an early birthday present for herself.

Yao’s exploits are in stark contrast to Ren’s daughter from his first marriage, Meng Wanzhou, who is the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei. Meng was arrested in Canada in 2018 on charges of suspected bank fraud and violation of sanctions against Iran. She is currently fighting extradition to the US and is facing the prospect of years in prison, a development that has been a sore point in US-China relations in recent years.

Related:

The Unfinished Story of Huawei: Phones, 5G, and “Harmony” at the Heart of the Trade War

A few days before Meng was detained, Yao was taking part in the ultra-exclusive Le Bal des Debutantes in Paris, which traditionally invites 20 debutantes from famous and powerful families around the globe each year.

Yao addressed her relationship with her half-sister, who is 25 years her senior, in the mini-documentary, saying, “I had often wondered why they said negative things about me and why everyone likes my sister but not me,” she said. “I will use these voices of doubts as my driving force to move forward.”

While Yao was announcing her musical aspirations, court documents revealed that Meng Wanzhou has received multiple death threats while on house arrest in Canada, with bullets mailed to her in one instance. The threats were reported as Meng is seeking adjustments to her bail conditions, asking for her daytime security detail to be dropped.

Bryan Grogan
    Bryan is RADII's Culture Editor. He is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with an interest in culture stories with a social bent. He once correctly guessed all 151 original Pokemon in seven minutes for an online quiz.