Another scandal starring Huawei appears to be on the horizon, with the company on Tuesday disclosing it's reviewing its business relationship with FedEx after the Memphis, Tennessee-based shipping firm attempted rerouting two foreign packages sent to one of its Chinese addresses to the United States.
The parcels were sent from Japan and had no reason to be diverted to the U.S., Huawei officials claim. FedEx attempted rerouting another couple of packages sent from Vietnam to other Huawei arms in Asia but the Chinese firm managed to stop that from happening. The shipping company had no authorization and provided no reasoning for doing what it did, according to Huawei.
While the exact contents of the packages are unknown, Huawei said the shipments only contained documents and contained no technologies. The Shenzen-based firm also refused to speculate on the reasoning FedEx might have had for attempting to divert the shipments without authorization, though the context of the incident certainly lends itself to speculation; the executive order U.S. President Donald Trump signed on May 17 and the subsequent supply ban American companies were issued in regards to Huawei left the world's second-largest smartphone manufacturer without many key technologies required for its operations to run unobstructed.
With FedEx being an American company, it isn't implausible that the firm might have been pressured by the U.S. government to divert the packages and have them inspected by American authorities; after all, it's subject to U.S. laws which are bound to place higher on its list of compliance priorities than customer contracts. Even if Huawei was to sue FedEx, which also isn't an impossible scenario, the shipping service provider would likely sue the Trump administration in response, assuming it diverted the packages following pressure from its home country. Naturally, that's a purely hypothetical scenario, yet it's hard to imagine a reason FedEx would deem good enough to go against its customer's wishes, especially given the extremely high profile of this particular customer and the fact it allegedly rerouted multiple shipments, suggesting the incident wasn't an accident.
A Huawei spokesperson said the company is reviewing the entirety of its document transportation setup as a result of the latest ordeal as part of a prepared media statement.
FedEx itself refused to comment on any specifics of the case, having said that doing so would be against the company policy of disclosing sensitive customer information. Then again, it's not like rerouting packages containing sensitive customer information is in line with its policy either. For the time being, the shipping service provider is working with Huawei in order to resolve the issue at hand and maintains the problems disclosed by Huawei constitute "an isolated issue."
There's no doubt about whether Huawei feels hard done in this development as the company would otherwise never reveal this story to the media. The Chinese arm of FedEx already apologized for the ordeal publicly, resolving to do so via social media earlier today.
U.S. government officials are also refusing to comment on whether the "mishandling" — which is how FedEx is describing the incident — of the four packages is related to the Huawei ban President Trump ordered earlier this month as part of his latest move in the trade war against China. Of course, the Trump administration isn't describing it as such.