China detains FedEx pilot as company faces scrutiny in country

China detains FedEx pilot as company faces scrutiny in country

A pilot with FedEx was arrested by authorities in China in the latest setback for the US logistics company in the country, where it has been under a series of investigations against the backdrop of a simmering trade war between Washington and Beijing.The Memphis-based company said in a statement on Friday that an employee had been detained and released on bail after airport security in Guangzhou found an unauthorised item in his luggage. “FedEx confirms that Chinese authorities in Guangzhou detained and later released one of our pilots on bail after an item was found in his luggage prior to a commercial flight,” it said.


The number of packages sent by Huawei but not delivered by the US company

FedEx did not identify the pilot or the nature of the item. “We are working with the appropriate authorities to gain a better understanding of the facts,” the company said.The US State Department confirmed that it was “aware of the arrest of a US citizen in Guangzhou . . . and are monitoring the situation”, but declined further comment citing privacy considerations.FedEx has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs in recent months amid an escalating US-China trade war.The world’s two largest economies have been slapping tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods, while Washington earlier in the summer imposed an effective ban on US companies selling components to Chinese telecoms company Huawei. In July, a Chinese government investigation into FedEx concluded that the logistics company had broken the law by not delivering more than 100 packages to the Shenzhen-based telecoms group.FedEx has apologised for missed deliveries to Huawei and blamed the issue on an operational error. That probe followed an earlier announcement by Beijing that it was compiling a list of unreliable foreign companies, which was widely viewed as retaliation for the Huawei ban. The news has spooked international businesses operating in China but Beijing has yet to formally add any companies to such a list. 

“While China’s entity list is in the making, some industry analysts believe that FedEx will be added first due to the company’s multiple violations of China’s laws and regulations,” Global Times, the state-run nationalist tabloid, wrote on Friday.The comments were the latest in a series of attacks on the company, which has been accused of colluding with the US government.“Based on repeated odd incidents, we have good reason to suspect that FedEx’s business in the Chinese market is interfered with by the US government, especially US intelligence department”, it said last month.News of the arrest was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which identified the pilot as Todd Hohn, a former US Air Force colonel. Additional reporting by Tom Mitchell in Beijing

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