Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers yesterday condemned China’s sudden ban on imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan as “obvious political retaliation,” while the opposition called for a scientific investigation into Beijing’s claim to have found pests in imports of the fruits.
China earlier yesterday announced a ban on the importation of the two fruits from today, citing repeated discoveries of Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug.
The announcement follows a similar ban on Taiwanese pineapples imposed in February.
Photo: Luo Hsin-chen, Taipei Times
At least Beijing gave a few days’ notice when it banned pineapple imports, an unnamed government official said yesterday.
This time it was “announced today and banned tomorrow,” intentionally planned for the Mid-Autumn Festival to throw the government into chaos and prevent farmers from enjoying the holiday, the official said.
Beijing’s use of “cruel and crass means to target the most vulnerable” disproves its promise of beneficial integration, the official said, adding that it is obvious retaliation for recent improvements in Taiwan-US relations.
Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times
Beijing always waits until Taiwanese crops are about to be in season to unilaterally announce that it has intercepted some sort of pest, using farmers as the scapegoat, DPP Legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said.
It is clearly a political attempt to suppress the development of Taiwanese agriculture, he said, decrying Beijing’s “disgraceful” tactic of using agriculture to subjugate the government and businesses to promote unification.
Chuang said he has already urged the government to take immediate countermeasures, including reducing the nation’s reliance on one market.
He also called on the public to use their pocketbooks to support local farmers.
DPP Legislator Wang Mei-hui (王美惠) also called foul, saying that China does not restrict other nations’ fruit imports.
The timing is especially suspicious, considering reports earlier this month that US lawmakers have called for renaming Taiwan’s Washington representative office to include the name “Taiwan,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) called on the government to rectify the problem through concrete action and bilateral dialogue.
Council of Agriculture data show that 90 percent of all exported custard and wax apples go to China, the party said in a statement, adding that action is needed to make sure that “care for farmers” is not reduced to a mere slogan.
Scientific investigators should be sent to China to determine whether pests are present and whether they pose a threat, it said.
This could be achieved through a cross-strait mechanism set up under an earlier KMT administration on agricultural quarantine and inspection, which allows for timely cooperation on emergencies, it added.
Additional reporting by Hsieh Chun-lin
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