Cross-strait tensions between Taiwan and China have steadily crept up as China imposed a ban on pineapple imports from Taiwan, citing concerns about "harmful creatures" allegedly detected in recent shipments.
China bans Taiwan-grown pineapples
While Chinese government officials have claimed that the ban was a "normal biosafety measure", Taipei has accused Beijing of weaponising trade, calling the move "unacceptable", reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).
According to the Taiwanese government's official figures, Taiwan produces about 420,000 tonnes of pineapples each year, with roughly 12 per cent exported overseas before the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2020, 97 per cent of Taiwan's pineapple exports were sent to mainland China, while two per cent went to Japan and one per cent to Hong Kong, according to SCMP.
U.S. and Canada rally behind Taiwan's pineapples
Taiwanese officials have slammed the import ban imposed by China, with several pledging to support local pineapple farmers.
Taiwan's foreign affairs minister Joseph Wu called it a move by China to "punish farmers in the south", and urged the international community to support Taiwan's "freedom pineapples".
Here we go again! Our pineapples are now banned by #China to punish farmers in the south. Remember #Australia's #FreedomWine? I urge like-minded friends around the globe to stand with #Taiwan & rally behind the #FreedomPineapple. JW— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) February 26, 2021
As the hashtag #FreedomPineapple starts picking up momentum on Taiwanese social media, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which is the U.S. representative office in Taiwan, shared a Facebook post encouraging people to buy pineapples.The post also featured a picture of AIT's director, Brent Christensen, sitting with three pineapples on his desk.
The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei also shared a post on Facebook of their staff posing with pineapples and pineapple pizza."At the Canadian Office, we like pineapples on pizza, especially pineapples from Taiwan!" the caption read.
In response to China's import ban, the Taiwanese government pledged to spend NT$1 billion (S$47.9 million) to safeguard the income of pineapple farmers on the island.
Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen also took to Facebook to call out China for its sudden ban on Taiwan's pineapples, pledging to support the farmers, and rallied people to help support the farmers by eating more pineapples.Tsai added in her post that her administration will be working towards the extension of their pineapple exports to other markets overseas, including the U.S. and Singapore.
Top image via AIT/FB, Tsai Ing-wen/FB