Asia Minute: Pineapple Politics?

Mar 2, 2021

There’s a dispute going on this week across the Taiwan Strait. It’s not related to any military exercises or weapons sales. This dispute is all about fruit. 

China and Taiwan are engaged in a verbal fight about pineapples.

Starting this week, China has banned the import of the fruit from Taiwan. Chinese customs officials say that’s because several kinds of mealy bugs were found in pineapple shipments from Taiwan between March and May of last year.

Taiwan’s government says there have been no insect issues since tougher quality standards were introduced in October – suggesting that the real reason for the ban is something else. Taiwan’s Central News Agency quotes a tweet from President Tsai Ing-Wen saying “unfair Chinese trade practices are now targeting Taiwanese pineapples.”

She and Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu compare the situation to tariffs China slapped on Australian wine late last year — part of a broader political dispute.

Most of Taiwan’s pineapples are consumed domestically – government figures show that only 10% are exported. But more than 95% of those exports go to China.

Social media activists backing Taiwan’s case are taking their protests to Twitter “#freedompineapples.”