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Asia Minute: Pineapple Politics Plague Taiwan-China Relations

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Pineapples are playing a growing role in Asia Pacific politics—at least when it comes to China and Taiwan. A dispute over the fruit has now gone international.

More than two weeks ago, China banned the import of pineapples from Taiwan.

Chinese officials said that was because of pests found in shipments last year.

Taiwanese officials said that hasn’t been an issue since last October—and the real reason for the ban is politics—an unfair trade move to hurt Taiwan’s economy.

Government figures show that before the ban, roughly 95% of Taiwan’s pineapple exports went to China.

This week, a Chinese official said it’s Taiwan that’s politicizing the issue.

Taiwan’s government has stepped up its own publicity campaign—urging its citizens to eat more of what it now calls “freedom pineapples”—grown in Taiwan.

The fruit is now showing up in recipes for everything from beef noodle soup to shrimp balls.

Representative offices of the United States, Canada and Japan in Taipei have all have supported the domestic campaign—part of a growing international flavor of the movement.

In Japan, a music group called “Lunch Duty” has composed “The Taiwan Pineapple Song.”

Taiwan’s pineapple exports to Japan have risen since the Chinese ban.

Kyodo News reports that many Japanese want to support Taiwan in part because the Taipei government was one of the first to offer immediate and strong support ten years ago---when a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan’s northeastern coast.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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