The Latest Flashpoint Between China and Taiwan: Pineapples

The Latest Flashpoint Between China and Taiwan: Pineapples
A hawker selling pineapples in Taipei, Taiwan, Feb. 27, 2021 (Photo by Ceng Shou Yi for NurPhoto via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Rachel Cheung and Assistant Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week.

Pineapples are the latest product to land in China’s crosshairs, as its deteriorating relationship with Taiwan spills over into trade. For years, Taiwanese farmers have made handsome profits selling their pineapples to Chinese consumers, expanding their fields each year. Even as cross-strait relations soured, they ignored warnings about their overreliance on the Chinese market. That all came to an end this week, as China abruptly suspended the import of the tropical fruit from Taiwan starting this month, right when the harvest season begins.

China cited the discovery of pests in justifying the import ban, but Taiwan disagreed. “It is obviously not based on normal trade considerations,” President Tsai Ing-wen wrote in a Facebook post, describing the unilateral notice by Beijing as an “ambush.” She has tried to play down the impact of the trade suspension, but China accounts for up to 90 percent of Taiwan’s pineapple exports. And farmers in the southern region, a traditional power base for Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party, are taking a hit.

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