FedEx, an American multinational courier delivery services company headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, has announced that one of its pilots, a former US Air Force Pilot named Todd Hohn, was arrested and later released on bail in China. The arrest happened about a week ago in the company’s Asia hub in Guangzhou after the pilot had made a round of deliveries and was waiting for a commercial flight.

Thursday’s announcement comes at a time when Beijing is having issues with FedEx over some irregularities with deliveries to the Chinese telecom giant Huawei. China is also in the middle of a trade war with the United States.

Chinese authorities searched Hohn’s luggage after the arrest and reported they had found air gun pellets with him. A FedEx spokesperson told AFP, "Chinese authorities in Guangzhou detained and later released one of our pilots on bail after an item was found in his luggage prior to a commercial flight.” 

FedEx is the target of multiple investigations in China with its deliveries to Huawei. In May, FedEx offered an apology for what it called "misrouting" of a "small number" of Huawei packages. A Chinese government probe launched in June accused FedEx of holding up more than 100 packages from Huawei. The telecom giant said at the time it would review its ties with the courier service over the incident.

The trade war has seen Beijing and Washington exchange steep tariffs on hundreds of billions of exports and goods. Huawei is also facing moves by the U.S. to blacklist the Chinese tech firm, cutting it off from American-made components it needs for products.

Last week, Huawei made a gesture offering to “license its entire 5G platform to any American company that wants to manufacture it and install it and operate it…” in what some have seen as a ploy to “flush out” President Donald Trump. The U.S. is not yet prepared for 5G so this may be a way for the Chinese to gain control of the internet services in the country to level the playing ground.

Even as the trade war continues between China and the United States, there is still ongoing business between the two countries. And in some cases, governments may try to meddle in the business if nothing more than to vex their adversaries. Sometimes, people like Hohn will get caught up in the crossfire while just trying to do a job.

Huawei's "Mate 30 Pro", the latest smartphone by the Chinese tech giant Huawei, is the first void of Google apps because of US sanctions Huawei's "Mate 30 Pro", the latest smartphone by the Chinese tech giant Huawei, is the first void of Google apps because of US sanctions Photo: AFP / Christof STACHE