June 27, 2019
US courier delivery company FedEx on Monday sued the US Department of Commerce over a request that the package giant enforce restrictions on Chinese telecom equipment provider Huawei.
In the lawsuit filed in the US District Court in the District of Columbia, FedEx claimed that department’s latest measures to restrict the business activities of US companies with Huawei “place an unreasonable burden on FedEx to police the millions of shipments that transit our network every day.”
“FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency,” FedEx said in a statement.
The department in May added Huawei and its affiliates to an “entity list,” a move that under Export Administration Regulations (EAR) barred US companies from supplying the Chinese company with parts such as electronic chips or providing other technologies without US government approval.
The action followed a national emergency declaration issued by the Trump administration over what it called threats to US technologies.
FedEx said the prohibitions contained in the EAR violate the company’s Constitutional rights and are practically impossible to implement.
“FedEx believes that the EAR violate common carriers’ rights to due process under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution as they unreasonably hold common carriers strictly liable for shipments that may violate the EAR without requiring evidence that the carriers had knowledge of any violations,” the company said.
“This puts an impossible burden on a common carrier such as FedEx to know the origin and technological make-up of contents of all the shipments it handles and whether they comply with the EAR,” it added.
Chinese authorities in May launched an investigation into FedEx’s misrouting of Huawei packages, two of which should have been delivered from Japan to China but ended up being redirected to FedEx’s global hub in Memphis, Tennessee.
FedEx in a May 28 statement apologized for the delivery failure. “We confirm that no external party required FedEx to make these shipments,” it said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang told a news briefing on Monday that the US government has been trumping up charges and abusing claims of national security to use state power in clamping down on a Chinese business. As the root cause of the chaos, its bullying practices not only hurts Chinese businesses, but also American ones.
“We urge it to stop and correct its wrong practice and create enabling conditions for the normal exchange and cooperation between companies,” said Geng.