| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Taiwan threatens to take China to WTO in new spat over fruit

In the latest disagreement between the two over fruit, Taiwan vowed to take China to the World Trade Organization after Beijing announced it would halt sugar and wax apple shipments from the island due to pest concerns.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing, which claims democratically controlled Taiwan as its own territory, are at an all-time low, with China exerting political and military pressure on the island in an attempt to force acceptance of its sovereignty.

China’s customs administration said it had repeatedly detected pests called “Planococcus minor” in sugar apples, also known as sweetsops or custard apples, and wax apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all directly affiliated offices to stop customs clearance of those products from Monday.

Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-Chung said China had behaved unilaterally without providing scientific evidence, and criticized the announcement for coming during the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated by Taiwan and China.

“We cannot accept this,” Chen told reporters in Taipei about the decision, which he said his office had only received at 9 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Sunday.

If Beijing does not react to Taipei’s request to address the matter under their existing bilateral framework by September 30, he said, Taiwan has informed Beijing that it would take the nation to the WTO under the body’s dispute resolution process.

Following its military threats, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu tweeted that China was now “weaponizing trade,” casting doubt on the country’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade organization, last week.

“China wants to join the high-standard CPTPP? Is this a joke?” Wu said.

Taiwanese specialties include sugar apples and wax apples, however the majority are consumed locally. Mangoes are very popular on the island.

China has halted fruit imports from Taiwan for the second time this year.

China prohibited pineapple imports from Taiwan in February, citing “harmful organisms” that might be present in the fruit. Taiwan had claimed that the pineapples were in perfect condition and accused Beijing of playing politics.

  • Reuters