Mainland ban on cherimoya, wax apples from Taiwan is precautionary biosafety measure
Published: Sep 19, 2021 04:25 PM
cherimoya Photo: CFP

cherimoya Photo: CFP

Chinese mainland customs will suspend cherimoya and wax apple imports from Taiwan island starting from Monday, after multiple inspections detected quarantine pests in the two subtropical fruits this year.

According to a notice published on the website of the General Administration of Customs (GAC) on Sunday, customs authorities will suspend declarations for cherimoya and wax apple originating from Taiwan, citing planococcus minor found on multiple occasions this year.

While the ban, which comes days after US media reported that US officials were considering changing the name of the Taiwan mission in Washington to "Taiwan Representative Office", may easily trigger speculation as to whether it is an economic warning, it is actually a normal biosafety precaution measure, an expert said.

Planococcus minor is a pest of more than 250 host plants, and can harm tropical and subtropical fruits as well as crops. Once introduced and colonized, the pest could create serious economic damage across the fruit industry.

This is not the first time the mainland has imposed a ban on the imports of fruit from Taiwan island due to harmful organisms. Starting from March 1, mainland customs suspended pineapple imports from Taiwan due to frequent detection of pests on the fruit from Taiwan from 2020.

The import ban triggered complaints among Taiwanese politicians alleging the ban was to punish the island. In response, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said the decision was made to protect agricultural production and ecological security on the mainland. Zhu also noted that the mainland had informed Taiwan of the pest problems.

"It is almost certain that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will again hype up the political implication behind the import ban this time, assaulting the mainland," Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University, East China's Fujian Province, told the Global Times on Sunday.

For instance, Taiwan-based media outlet cited DPP Taoyuan city councilor Wang Hao-yu as saying that the mainland suddenly found a reason to ban cherimoya and wax apple imports from Taiwan, which has already caused great concern among local farmers.

"But such kind of politicization of normal biosafety control measures will only make cross-Straits relations worse," Wang noted. "The DPP don't really care about the real interests of Taiwanese farmers."

The mainland has long been Taiwan's most important export destination for cherimoya and wax apple. In 2020, Taiwan exported 13,588 tons of cherimoya and 4,792 tons of wax apple to the mainland, both accounting for more than 95 percent of the island's total exports of the two fruits that year, reported.