China notified Taiwan on Sunday of its decision to halt imports of wax and custard apples from the democratically governed island, stating that the ban would take effect Monday. Taiwan denounced the move as a “hostile act.”
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu stated on Twitter that, following a series of military threats, China is weaponizing trade, and that “the ban violates international trade norms.”
China has recently hardened its stance toward Taiwan. Despite Taiwan being a de facto independent country with its own military, democratically-elected government, and constitution, the Chinese regime claims the self-ruled island as its own.
Chinese customs said in a statement that it detected pests known as Planococcus minor—more commonly referred to as the citrus mealybug—in imported Taiwanese custard and wax apples.
Taiwanese authorities pressed Beijing to substantiate the ban with scientific evidence. If China does not respond to a resolution under the current bilateral framework by Sept. 30, Taiwan will report the dispute to the World Trade Organization, it said.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen condemned the move Sunday on Facebook, pledging to assist and protect farmers in the face of “unreasonable market interference.”
Taiwan’s government has allocated about $36 million to promote the fruits’ sales in the domestic and overseas markets.
China suspended pineapple imports from Taiwan in February for similar reasons. Taiwan’s pineapple exports to Japan have increased more than eightfold since that ban.