The Chinese government is investigating FedEx after Huawei said the delivery company diverted to the United States two packages intended for the company’s offices in China.
Already on edge about Huawei and relations with the United States, Chinese government authorities issued a strong statement: FedEx’s action has “seriously harmed the legitimate rights and interests of its client, and violated Chinese laws and regulations on the express delivery sector.”
The Chinese authorities said they would look into the matter.
“We welcome foreign companies’ lawful operations in China,” said Wang Shouwen, China’s vice minister of commerce and deputy trade negotiator at a press conference Sunday morning. “But if they violate Chinese laws, we need to investigate them in accordance with Chinese laws.”
The packages, whose contents are unknown, were supposed to be delivered from Japan to China. But they ended up in the United States. FedEx said they were misrouted in error, and the company has apologized.
“Our relationship with Huawei Technologies and our relationships with all of our customers in China are important to us,” the company said in a statement. “FedEx will fully cooperate with any regulatory investigation into how we serve our customers.”
Huawei welcomed FedEx’s apology, but said it was suspicious that the diversion was purposeful.
“I don’t think it is right for any company to intercept or detain individual documents or information,” said Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer, in a statement last week. “Our rights were infringed on, and we can claim and defend for ourselves if that were to be true.”
The incident comes at an awkward time for Huawei and US-China relations.
The United States has raised tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and escalated its campaign against Huawei, one of China’s most powerful tech companies. Last month, the Trump administration added it to a list of companies it says undermine American interests.
That forced crucial suppliers to cut ties with Huawei. Wireless companies around the globe followed suit by delaying the launch of Huawei smartphones, including in the United Kingdom and Japan.
In response, the Chinese government imposed retaliatory tariffs on American imports. And the Chinese government is working to establish an “unreliable entity list,” essentially a blacklist, which would include foreign companies, individuals and organizations, according to a statement Friday from China’s Commerce Ministry.