China slaps trade restrictions on Taiwan

Imports of Taiwanese citrus and fish have been targeted over Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the island

China has suspended the import of a range of Taiwanese goods as tensions grow over a visit to the self-governed island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

According to Chinese authorities, imports of Taiwanese citrus and some types of fish are suspended. The restrictions were imposed due to excessive pesticide residue detected “multiple times” while some frozen fish packages had tested positive for coronavirus, they said.

In a separate statement, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it would halt the export of sand to Taiwan based on the relevant legal documents. Beyond that, the ministry did not provide any more details.

On Monday, prior to Pelosi’s visit, a ban was placed on more than 100 Taiwanese food brands, including tea, honey and seafood producers. According to Beijing, all of them had failed to renew their export registrations and would be allowed to sell their products only until the end of July.

Responding to the development, Taiwan Food and Drug Administration director Wu Shou-mei noted that the restrictions might be politically motivated accusing Beijing of treating Taiwanese manufacturers differently than those from other countries.

This is not the first time Beijing has imposed trade restrictions on Taipei. Last year, it blocked pineapple imports saying that it found pests in a number of shipments. Taiwan, however, rebuffed the claim at the time, reiterating that the fruit is “of the highest quality and meets the strictest international certification standards”.

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China is Taiwan’s largest trade partner, spending $328.3 billion with the island last year. At the same time, exports from Taiwan exceed imports by $172 billion.

The new restrictions coincide with a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a move that sparked fierce protests from Beijing. China believes that the trip by the senior US official violates the country’s sovereignty. According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, some US politicians are “openly playing with fire” regarding the Taiwan issue.

The US, he said, is “continuously undermining China’s sovereignty, emasculating the One China policy and even deliberately trying to artificially create an incident in the Taiwan Strait.”

On Wednesday the Chinese military announced military drills off the island, live-firing in the Taiwan Strait and missile test-launches in the sea east of Taiwan.

During her visit, Pelosi met with MPs in Taipei and members of the US delegation also held a closed-door session with Taiwanese officials. Earlier, Pelosi revealed that she intended to discuss security, economics and governance with her counterparts there.

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