Huawei reviewing FedEx relationship, says packages ‘diverted’

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Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei is reviewing its relationship with FedEx Corp after it claimed the U.S. package delivery company, without a detailed explanation, diverted two parcels destined for Huawei addresses in Asia to the United States and attempted to reroute two others.

Huawei told Reuters on Friday (May 24) that FedEx diverted two packages sent from Japan and addressed to Huawei in China to the United States, and attempted to divert two more packages sent from Vietnam to Huawei offices elsewhere in Asia, all without authorisation, providing images of FedEx tracking records.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the records. Shown the images of the tracking records, FedEx declined to make any comment, saying company policy prevented it from disclosing customer information. Huawei said the four packages only contained documents and “no technology,” which Reuters was unable to independently confirm.

Huawei declined to elaborate on why it thought the packages were diverted. Reuters was given no evidence the incident was related to the U.S. government’s move to place Huawei and its affiliates on a trade blacklist in mid-May, effectively banning U.S. firms from doing business with them on security grounds.

Huawei acknowledged to Reuters that one package originating in Vietnam was received by Friday, and the other was on its way, according to FedEx tracking records provided by Huawei.

FedEx spokeswoman Maury Donahue told Reuters the packages were “misrouted in error” and that FedEx was not requested to divert them by any other party.

The U.S. Department of Commerce did not reply to a request for comment on whether the incident might be related to its move on May 16 to add Huawei to the so-called “Entity List,” preventing it buying certain items from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.

The United States believes Huawei, the world’s largest telecom network gear maker leading the way in creating the next generation of wireless networks known as 5G, is a potential espionage threat because of its close ties with the Chinese government.

Huawei has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, military or intelligence services.

The issue has become a flashpoint in an escalating trade battle between the world’s two biggest economies.

The two packages sent on May 19 and May 20 from Tokyo, intended for Huawei in China, ended up in Memphis, Tennessee, the headquarters of the U.S. company, by May 23, according to images of FedEx tracking records shown to Reuters by Huawei.

The two packages originating from Hanoi on May 17, destined for Huawei’s Hong Kong and Singapore offices, were held up after arriving in local FedEx stations in Hong Kong and Singapore on May 21 for “delivery exception,” according to other images Huawei showed Reuters.

According to FedEx’s website, the status “exception” means an unexpected event is preventing delivery of a package, for example a customs delay, a holiday, or no one being available to accept delivery. FedEx declined to give details on what the exception was in this case.