After China's abruptly suspended the import of pineapple from Taiwan, a wide range of Taiwanese public figures has taken to social media, urging people to support local pineapple growers.
China's General Administration of Customs has announced that the suspension which will be effective from March 1. The Chinese authorities claimed that the action was taken after mealybugs were found in several batches of fresh pineapples shipped from Taiwan in 2020, Focus Taiwan reported.
The move has been interpreted by some in Taiwan as being directed at the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is frequently critical of China.
Taiwan has termed the suspension of pineapples import an "unfriendly" move.
Taiwan's Council of Agriculture (COA) announced that it would spend NT$1 billion (US$35.33 million) to promote pineapple sales at home and abroad, while President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President William Lai would take action to support domestic growers by consuming more pineapples themselves, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang said.
Taiwan produces nearly 420,000 tonnes of pineapples every year. It had exported 6,200 batches to China since last year, with only 13 batches, totalling 141 tonnes, failing tests, meng the qualification rate was 99.79 per cent, he said.
China has a history of using trade to help it achieve its policy goals.
The internet celebrity Holger Chen announced plans to buy USD17,945 worth of pineapples, which he said will be distributed to members of the chain of gyms he founded.
"Don't bully Taiwanese people," Chen wrote in a Facebook post accomped by a picture of him holding a pineapple in each hand, which as of Saturday afternoon had racked up over 170,000 likes.
New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih, a member of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), said he was looking for ways to work with his southern counterparts on the issue, and expressed confidence that the market would be able to rebound.
"Taiwan pineapples are sweet, juicy, full of vitamins and loved around the world, so there is no reason they should only be sold in one market," he said. "In facing this problem with China, the government should stay calm and focus on bilateral communication."
Among DPP figures, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan said he was sure the government would work hard to open up other export markets for the fruit, but in the meantime urged people to show their support by "using New Taiwan Dollars to empty the shelves of pineapples."
Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien said that pineapples are a versatile fruit that can not only be eaten fresh, but also used in processed products like cake, jam, and bromelain, enzyme extract derived from the stem of the plant.
Lin Yu-chang, mayor of Keelung, said that he "strongly protested" the policy, which he characterized as part of a "longtime (Chinese) approach to Taiwanese agriculture" that involved building a market up only to purposely let it collapse.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.
( With inputs from ANI )
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