FedEx has been caught in the middle of the US-China trade debacle.
And now, the impact of Trump’s trade war is getting personal. According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the Chinese government had a FedEx pilot in custody for a week. A FedEx representative told Business Insider that the pilot was later released.
Todd A. Hohn, the FedEx pilot, reportedly was detained while waiting for a commercial flight home from the Guangzhou airport. Hohn’s checked bag had “nonmetallic pellets used in low-power replica air guns.”
Because of that, people close to the situation said the Chinese government is now launching a criminal investigation for Hohn’s alleged transportation of ammunition.
Hohn is a married father and also served as a US Air Force pilot, The Journal said. Until 2017, he was the commander of the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base, which is about two hours southwest of Oklahoma City.
“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,” a FedEx representative said in a statement sent to Business Insider. “We are working with the appropriate authorities to gain a better understanding of the facts.”
It’s just the latest issue FedEx has seen in China as its trade war with the US rages on.
In May, FedEx failed to deliver several Huawei parcels through Asia. That prompted the Chinese government to start an investigation into the global package giant, which moves some 15 million parcels per day in more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx’s stock quickly sank to a three-year low.
FedEx CEO Fred Smith denied that was a purposeful jab against China or Huawei, but the issue reemerged a few weeks later. On June 21, a PC Mag reporter tweeted that a coworker attempted to FedEx a Huawei phone from the UK to the US. That phone was never delivered.
Amid all of this, authorities in China said in June that it was considering placing FedEx on a list that would restrict it from operating in the country, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The blacklist never went through.
Later that month, FedEx sued the Trump administration over its trade rules.
FedEx’s lawsuit against the Department of Commerce points to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) that prohibit parties from shipping items subject to export restrictions. This has landed FedEx in the middle of the debacle between the US government and Huawei, but the laws have been a challenge for FedEx for years, Smith said in June.