The arrest drew a sharp response from Chinese media and on the mainland's social media.
"I am shocked. The U.S. can't beat Huawei in the market. Don't act like a despicable rogue," Tweeted Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily.
Jia Wenshan, a professor at Chapman University in California, said the arrest was part of a broader geo-political strategy from the Trump administration to counter China and it "runs a huge risk of derailing the U.S.-China trade talks."
A user of China's Twitter-like Weibo platform said Chinese should boycott products made by U.S. tech giant Apple and instead buy Huawei products to show support for one of China's national champions.
The probe of Huawei is similar to one that threatened the survival of China's ZTE, which pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating U.S. laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran.
Earlier this year, the United States banned American firms from selling parts and software to ZTE, which then paid $1 billion this summer as part of a deal to get the ban lifted.
In January 2013, Reuters reported that Hong Kong-based Skycom Tech Co Ltd, which attempted to sell embargoed Hewlett-Packard computer equipment to Iran's largest mobile-phone operator, had much closer ties to Huawei than previously known.
Meng, who also has gone by the English names Cathy and Sabrina, served on the board of Skycom between February 2008 and April 2009, according to Skycom records filed with Hong Kong's Companies Registry.
Several other past and present Skycom directors appear to have connections to Huawei.
The news about the arrest comes the same day Britain's BT Group said it was removing Huawei's equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and would not use the Chinese company in central parts of the next network.
Huawei has said it complies with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and U.S. and other regulations.
Meng's arrest drew a quick reaction in Washington.
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse praised the move and said that it was "for breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran." He added: "Sometimes Chinese aggression is explicitly state-sponsored and sometimes it's laundered through many of Beijing's so-called 'private' sector entities."
U.S. stock futures and Asian shares tumbled as news of the arrest heightened the sense a major collision was brewing between the world's two largest economic powers, not just over tariffs but also over technological hegemony.
Shares of Huawei suppliers slumped on Thursday as investors fretted over the arrest. Samsung Electronics fell 2.3 percent, while Chinasoft International sank as much as 13 percent.
Here's the statement from Huawei:
Recently, our corporate CFO, Ms. Meng Wanzhou, was provisionally detained by the Canadian Authorities on behalf of the United States of America, which seeks the extradition of Ms. Meng Wanzhou to face unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York, when she was transferring flights in Canada.
The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng. The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.
Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.
—CNBC contributed to this report.