The FedEx Corp. has apologised for failing to deliver a Huawei package to the US, explaining the incident as an operational mistake. The uproar was prompted by an incident with PC Magazine writer Adam Smith who reportedly tried to send a Huawei P30 smartphone from the UK to the US but got his shipment returned to London after it had spent several hours in Indianapolis, as the tracking services revealed.
“The package in question was mistakenly returned to the shipper, and we apologise for this operational error”, a FedEx spokeswoman told Reuters, declining to comment what was in the parcel in question.
This explanation contradicted the US firm’s reply via their Twitter account to PC Magazine’s Adam Smith, noting that Huawei and 68 of its global affiliates were included on the list of entities “that US companies are restricted from doing business with”.
It is not the first time that FedEx has had an issue with delivering Huawei parcels amid the ongoing spat between Washington and Beijing over the Chinese tech giant and its international advances. As Reuters points out, FedEx earlier misdirected Huawei packages to wrong addresses without giving any details. China began probing the incident. However, China’s state news agency Xinhua said not to regard this investigation as retaliation against the US firm.
This and recent failures have prompted criticism on Chinese social media, as the Global Times reports, citing comments on the Chinese social network Weibo.
Chinese tech blogger Kejiyu lambasted FedEx for changing its statements, noting "First denying, then apologizing? What kind of company operation is it?"
"If an apology works, then what do we need the law for? It seems an apology has become a pass for behaving shamelessly”, one commenter posted, according to the Global Times, which says that many called for "blacklisting" the courier service on the Chinese market.
China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing’s expert Yang Daqing told the Global Times that it seems to be a likely scenario.
"It seems highly likely that FedEx will be added onto the ‘unreliable entities list’”, he noted suggesting that "FedEx has a tacit understanding with the US government to block Huawei across the globe”.
China’s Commerce Ministry and FedEx have not commented yet if the US firm could end up blacklisted. The ministry announced in May that Beijing would move to create its own blacklist containing "unreliable" foreign enterprises and individuals. According to the officials, foreign firms and individuals that fail to comply with market regulations and substantially damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies will be included in a list of "unreliable entities".
The move comes amid ongoing tensions between the United States and China that escalated after Washington barred Huawei equipment from its domestic market and tried to pressure its European allies to do the same. The US justified its actions by claiming that Huawei is working with the Chinese government and installing backdoors on its equipment on behalf of Beijing. Both Beijing and Huawei have vehemently dismissed the American accusations as false. The Chinese tech giant has filed a suit against the US government over the ban.
With the recent move, the US said it was adding several Chinese companies to its national security “entity list” that bars them from buying American components without government approval.