Taiwan threatens WTO action after China halts grouper imports

Last year, China suspended imports of pineapples, sugar apples and wax apples from Taiwan, citing concerns about pests, which Taiwan has strongly denied.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing, which claim to democratically govern Taiwan as its own territory, are at their lowest in decades as China increases political and military pressure for the island to accept its sovereignty.

China’s customs administration said Friday evening that it had repeatedly detected banned chemicals in grouper from Taiwan and would suspend their import from Monday “to prevent risks and protect the health and life of consumers”.

Taiwanese Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung denied the accusation, saying there was nothing wrong with the fish and that he would provide data to China and demand a response.

If China does not respond, Taiwan will not rule out taking the issue to the WTO, he told reporters.

Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng said China has repeatedly boycotted and blocked Taiwanese agricultural and aquatic products “in a manner inconsistent with international practices”.

This not only harms Taiwan-China relations “but also makes the Taiwanese people even more disgusted with the wanton suppression of Taiwan by the Chinese Communist Party authorities.”

While most Taiwanese groupers are consumed at home, China accounts for around 90% of the exported product.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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