TAIPEI / BEIJING, Sept. 19 (Reuters) – Taiwan on Sunday threatened to submit China to the World Trade Organization after Beijing announced it would suspend imports of sugar apples and wax apples from the island in due to pest problems, during the last argument between the two over fruit.
Relations between Taipei and Beijing, which claim democratically-controlled Taiwan as its own territory, are at their lowest in decades, as China ramps up political and military pressure for the island to accept its sovereignty.
China’s customs administration said it has repeatedly detected pests called “Planococcus minor” in sugar apples, also known as candies, and wax apples from Taiwan. It has asked its Guangdong branch and all directly affiliated offices to stop the customs clearance of these products from Monday.
Taiwanese Agriculture Council Minister Chen Chi-chung said China behaved unilaterally without providing scientific evidence, criticizing the announcement for taking place during the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival , celebrated by Taiwan and China.
“We cannot accept this,” Chen told reporters in Taipei of the decision, which he said his office only received at 9:00 am (01:00 GMT) on Sunday.
Taiwan has told China it will take the country to the WTO under the body’s dispute settlement mechanism if Beijing does not respond to Taipei’s request to resolve the issue within its bilateral framework. existing before September 30, he added.
The government will also spend T $ 100 million ($ 3.60 million) to help affected farmers, increasing not only domestic sales but also exports to other markets like Singapore and Malaysia, Chen said.
Sugar apples and wax apples are Taiwanese specialties, although most are eaten domestically. The island is also famous for its mangoes.
This is the second time this year that China has stopped fruit imports from Taiwan.
In February, China banned pineapple imports from Taiwan, citing “pest creatures” that could accompany the fruit. Taiwan had said there was nothing wrong with pineapples and accused Beijing of playing politics.
($ 1 = 27.7820 Taiwan dollars)
Reporting by Min Zhang and Tony Munroe in Beijing and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and William Mallard
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.