China detains FedEx pilot as Chinese delegation heads home from D.C.

Business & Technology

Todd A. Hohn, a FedEx pilot, was detained in Guangzhou last week while waiting for his flight home to Hong Kong, reportedly for carrying “nonmetallic pellets” that could be considered ammunition. Wall Street Journal reports:

When he was detained, Mr. Hohn was carrying nonmetallic pellets used in low-power replica air guns in a checked bag, the people said. Chinese authorities have alleged that Mr. Hohn was illegally transporting ammunition and have begun a criminal investigation, the people said.

In June, FedEx apologized “after it misrouted some of Huawei Technologies’ packages.” Since then, the Chinese police have “said they were investigating the company over the discovery of a gun in a package sent from the U.S. to China.” Earlier this month, state media reported on an investigation into FedEx for allegedly illegally shipping knives to Hong Kong.

This news is not going to reassure the growing number of multinational executives who are rethinking their China travel plans. Earlier this week, we noted reports that another Taiwanese citizen had been detained in China in murky circumstances. Meanwhile, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained on spurious charges, without access to lawyers or family members, for 284 days.

In other news from the U.S.-China techno-trade war:

“Stocks fell to their lows of the day on Friday on news that Chinese trade officials are cutting short their visit to the U.S.,” according to CNBC:

A China delegation had canceled a visit to U.S. farms in Montana, the Montana Farm Bureau said around midday Friday. Nicole Rolf, the Bureau’s director of national affairs said the officials were headed back to China earlier than planned.

“The Trump administration has excluded Christmas tree lights, a series of pet supplies, plastic drinking straws and hundreds of other products from a 25 percent duty President Donald Trump imposed on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, according to three notices set to be published in the Federal Register on Friday,” reports Politico. Although the move comes in advance of the trade talks planned for early October, “the exclusions are less about placating Beijing than they are an effort to provide relief to some U.S. companies.”

China has green-lighted eight Argentine meat plants for beef exportsaccording to Reuters. Former Mexican ambassador to China Jorge Guajardo tweeted in response:

When Mexico signed an import-export protocol of pork meat with China in ‘08, China took more than 6 years to inspect and green light Mexican plants. Clearly they’re fast-tracking the process to substitute U.S. exports. These are markets the U.S. will never get back.

DJI is the target: “A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday that would bar federal agencies from buying drones from China and any other country deemed a national-security risk,” reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

Huawei’s attorneys have argued in a U.S. District Court that certain portions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 — specifically, the ones used to ban it from doing business with U.S. government agencies — are unconstitutional, reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

U.S. tech bans a boon for Huawei’s Chinese suppliers: “Huawei’s 5G ambitions will lead it to rely heavily on companies like Jiangsu-based WUS Printed Circuit Kunshan Co. and Shenzhen-based Shennan Circuits Co. to produce its needed circuit boards,” reports Bloomberg (porous paywall).

Other American moves that will annoy Beijing: “U.S. lawmakers have unveiled new legislation that would prohibit Beijing from opening any new consulates on American soil until the U.S. is permitted to establish its own diplomatic office in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa [and] lays out a path for punishing Chinese officials who interfere with the Dalai Lama’s succession plans,” reports the South China Morning Post. Meanwhile, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, having just been condemned by Beijing for meeting Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong (黄之锋 Huáng Zhīfēng), this morning tweeted:

It was an honor to welcome my dear friend, Rebiya Kadeer, an advocate and leader on behalf of the Uyghur people, to the U.S. Capitol today to discuss her missing family members and the conditions facing her people.