Beijing/New York: China halted some trade with Taiwan in retaliation to the high-profile visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island.
China’s General Administration of Customs said in a statement Wednesday that some fish and fruit imports were suspended due to excessive pesticide residue detected “multiple times” on products since last year, as well as some frozen fish packages that tested positive for coronavirus in June.
The Ministry of Commerce said in a separate statement it banned natural sand exports based on provisions of related law, but gave no further details.
Beijing has often targeted Taiwan’s agricultural industry for punishment over political issues. Many of southern Taiwan’s fruit-producing regions are typically bastions of political support for President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party, which advocates for Taiwan’s formal independence.
China caught Taiwan off guard last year when it suddenly blocked pineapple imports from there. Beijing later halted imports of wax and sugar apples last September. While most fruit produced in Taiwan is consumed domestically, the vast majority of exports go to China.
The trade actions followed a Taiwanese media report that China on Monday banned food imports from more than 100 of the island’s suppliers.
China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade rising 26% on year to $328.3 billion last year.
Taiwan held a sizable surplus against China, with exports from the island exceeding imports by $172 billion, according to Chinese customs data. While Beijing could leverage that advantage by sanctioning exporters, China also relies on Taiwan for semiconductor supplies.
China previously halted natural sand exports to Taiwan in March 2007, citing environmental concerns, and lifted the ban about one year later. Taiwan activated a contingency plan at the time, including importing materials from the Philippines and using local river sand to close the gap.