Chinese authorities in the southern city of Guangzhou detained a U.S. pilot for FedEx Corp last week on suspicion of smuggling weapons and ammunition after finding suspected air gun pellets in his luggage, the foreign ministry said on Sept. 20.
The detention comes as FedEx faces other investigations in China amid tense U.S.-China trade talks.
The man, identified by the Wall Street Journal as former U.S. Air Force pilot Todd Hohn, arrived in Guangzhou having piloted a FedEx freighter aircraft into the city on Sept. 11, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
On the morning of Sept. 12, customs at Guangzhou airport found and seized a suspected box of 681 air gun pellets in the luggage of the pilot, Geng said, adding he had been due to fly to Hong Kong that day.
He was later released from custody, subject to provision of a surety, pending investigation for the suspected smuggling of weapons and ammunition, Geng told a daily news briefing.
The Journal said Hohn was not being allowed to leave China until the investigation concludes.
Hohn could not be reached for a comment, and calls to the Guangzhou police were not answered.
FedEx, which did not name Hohn, said in a statement it was “working with the appropriate authorities to gain a better understanding of the facts.”
A FedEx spokeswoman declined to give any details when asked if Hohn was being prevented from leaving China.
Earlier this week, FedEx slashed its fiscal 2020 profit forecast by 18 percent.
FedEx, which gets about a third of its revenue from outside the United States, has been ensnared in tensions between the United States and China.
China launched an investigation into FedEx in June over Huawei parcels delivered to the wrong address, without giving details about the deliveries in question. It was a move by Beijing to retaliate against the United States amid escalating trade tensions.
In May, the U.S. Commerce Department, citing national security concerns, placed Huawei on an “entity list,” effectively forbidding it from conducting business with U.S. firms.
The United States and China have been engaged in a trade war for 14 months on issues such as tariffs, subsidies, technology, regulations and cyber security.
By Ben Blanchard and Rachit Vats. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.