The police in Jin'an, Fuzhou city, East China's Fujian province, said on Sunday that they had received a tip-off that a local sports equipment company received a parcel containing a firearm.
If the news release stopped there, it would presumably be no different from many other firearms cases handled by the police and be simply part of the police's year-end work summary－the police in Fuzhou investigated 128 cases related to guns last year, and more than 30,000 gun-related cases were probed by the police nationwide.
But what has made headlines is the parcel was sent from the United States via FedEx, a US express delivery company that has been under investigation by the State Post Bureau since June on suspicion it illegally held back and misdirected to its US headquarters packages of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei that Washington is intent on attacking.
In a further twist to the story, FedEx issued a statement on Monday saying it had notified the relevant authorities about the shipment on June 14. So far, all that is known for sure is what has been revealed in these vague, if not reticent, utterances from both the Chinese side and the company, which have produced more questions than answers.
If FedEx has delivered arms from overseas to China without obtaining approval of the Chinese authorities, it will have violated the law in China. The incident has also exposed loopholes in the delivery company's operation and management, which, since it involves firearms, would pose a tangible threat to public security in any country.
However, this latest incident should not detract from FedEx's wrongdoing concerning Huawei's deliveries. Anyone following the developments surrounding FedEx will be aware that it sued the US Commerce Department in late June, claiming that "FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency".
Guns are strictly banned in China. Although the investigation by the State Post Bureau has reportedly discovered violations of the regulations by FedEx, before the police in Jin'an conclude their investigation, it would be too early to jump to conclusions in this instance.
But while it remains to be seen what verdict the US court delivers in the transportation company's lawsuit against the government, if the probe by State Post Bureau concludes that the US company has been serving as a long-arm of Washington, it will be suitable for inclusion on the unreliable entity list that China has established, but not yet added names to.