TAIPEI: Last week, as Taiwanese fighters screamed in the lush green fields of eastern Hualien county, pomelo farmer Mulin Ou sat in his orchard and watched over China’s latest pressure to squeeze the island. I counted the costs. Tensions across the strait rose to their highest levels in decades as China raged over a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month.

Beijing, which claims democratic Taiwan as its own, has begun training to respond, sending missiles into waters around the island and imposing new bans on exports of certain fruit and fish products to China. repulsed with

The overall impact of China’s latest economic sanctions is limited. But producers like Ou pay a painful price. “All orders from the mainland have been canceled. Our pomelo has no way of getting there,” he said.

His farm in Hualien’s Ruisui Township has shipped about 180,000 kilograms (397,000 pounds) of citrus fruits to the mainland each year for decades. “Clients are waiting for pomelo, but there’s nothing we can do. This is a political matter,” he shrugged.

Taiwanese farmers and producers have increasingly had to get used to bans on imports from China, and Beijing officials usually cite sudden regulatory discrepancies rather than direct political ties.

After Pelosi’s visit, China announced a ban on some Taiwanese citrus and mackerel, halting exports to the natural sand islands used in construction.

A month before her visit, it was targeting grouper fish, the majority of which had previously been directed to consumers in China. Taipei said the move was politically motivated, but China claimed it had found some fish contaminated with banned chemicals.

A year ago, pineapple imports were halted after Chinese authorities claimed they found pests in the shipment, just as the annual harvest was taking place. Hans Chen, his third-generation farmer at the Lijia Green Energy and Biotechnology Company at a grouper farm in Taiwan’s southernmost Pingtung county, said if the sanctions were not lifted by the end of the year, “a serious It will affect me,” he said.

Chen, 35, manages a grouper farm of about 500,000 birds, with 90% of its exports going to China.

He said the ban was imposed without warning and came at the worst possible time for producers already hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. It relies too much on , and says it needs to diversify away from its aggressive neighbors after the abrupt ban.

ā€œEveryone feels that the COVID-19 situation is slowly improving, the Chinese market is slowly stabilizing, and prices are rising again, so there will be gains ā€¦ to make up for previous losses.ā€ he said.

“That’s why everyone’s anxiety and the impact[of sanctions]is so great.”

China remains Taiwan’s largest trading partner, with the mainland accounting for 28% of total exports. But Taiwan’s government and businesses are also pushing for economic diversification in response to Beijing’s increasing aggression under President Xi Jinping, the most authoritarian Chinese leader in a generation. there is

Since 2016, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has pursued a “New Southern Policy” to expand trade with Southeast Asia and the rest of East Asia. Taiwan is also witnessing a surge of sympathy from like-minded democracies in the region, where much of last year’s pineapple harvest was fueled by Japanese consumers buying “freedom his pineapples” as an act of solidarity. I was saved by buying it in a hurry.

China has so far been careful about what it targets.

Taiwan is the world’s largest producer of semiconductor chips, and the Chinese government has avoided entering a market it relies on to meet domestic demand.

“China has been very careful in choosing its sanctions measures against Taiwan,” Christina Lai, a research fellow at Taiwan’s government-run Academia Sinica, told AFP. “It has always refrained from harming the domestic economy and the technology industry. Beijing cannot afford to ban the most important imports from Taiwan’s semiconductors, high-end equipment or machinery,” she added. .

Therefore, the overall impact on Taiwan’s economy will be “very limited,” said Fan Shiping, a professor at the National Taiwan Normal University. “This is political manipulation and China wants to show that it is in control and in control of Taiwan,” he added.

But for farmers who have fallen victim to the recent escalation of tensions, the scale of the sanctions feels like an earthquake. “We need to start selling domestically. This is a big headache.” -AFP

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