China restricts trade with Taiwan amid tensions over Pelosi trip

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China restricts trade with Taiwan amid tensions over Pelosi trip

China’s Commerce Ministry announces trade measures after warning of “serious consequences” over visit.

Port of Taipei, Taiwan.
China has restricted its trade with Taiwan amid elevated tensions over US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island [File: Pichi Chuang/Reuters]

Published On 3 Aug 20223 Aug 2022

China has restricted its trade with Taiwan amid elevated tensions over United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the democratically-ruled island.

China’s Commerce Ministry said in a notice on Wednesday it had halted exports of sand, a key material used in construction, and suspended imports of Taiwanese citrus fruit and some types of fish.

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The announcement comes as Pelosi conducts a high-profile visit to Taiwan despite Beijing warning of “serious consequences” should the veteran Democratic politician make the trip.

The trade measures follow a notice by China’s customs agency on Monday that it had blacklisted more than 100 Taiwanese food brands for failing to renew their export registration.

Wu Shou-Mei, director-general of Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration, said the moves overnight may be politically motivated as Taiwanese manufacturers were being treated differently than those from elsewhere, the Taipei Times reported.

China last year banned imports of Taiwanese pineapples citing “biosafety” concerns, in a move widely seen as an attempt to put pressure on Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who has sought to boost Taiwan’s relationships and standing overseas.

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China has been repeatedly accused of using trade as a weapon in recent years, with Australia and Lithuania seeing their exports hit with tariffs and other restrictions after becoming embroiled in disputes with Beijing.

Alicia García-Herrero, chief Asia Pacific economist at Natixis in Hong Kong, said suspending fruit and fish imports would have a negligible effect on Taiwan’s economy, but halting sand exports could have a significant impact as construction has become an important source of economic growth during the pandemic.

“There have been shortages of sand and gravel for some time in Taiwan,”  García-Herrero told Al Jazeera.

“I would not say it is a key export from China but it does hurt Taiwan.”

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