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China Hits Taiwan With Trade Restrictions After Pelosi Visit

Beijing: China has suspended some trade with Taiwan in apparent retribution for a visit by the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-governing island.

The curbs include the suspension of some fruits and fish imports from Taiwan, and exports of natural sand to the island.

China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth $273 billion last year, accounting for 33% of the island’s total trade with the rest of the world, according to the Taiwanese government.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Wednesday that it would suspend imports of grapefruit, lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits, as well as chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan.

In a separate statement, Chinese customs officials said the import suspension of citrus fruit is a result of “pest control” and “excessive pesticide residues,” and cited “Covid prevention” for the suspension on seafood imports.

China’s commerce ministry, meanwhile, suspended exports of natural sand to Taiwan, a key component for the production of semiconductor chips.

In response, Taiwan officials said China’s sand export suspension would have a “limited” effect and that Chinese sand accounts for “less than one percent” of its total demand.

China has previously banned imports of some Taiwanese products amid escalating tensions. Last year, China banned imports of pineapples from the island followed by some types of apples later in the year citing “pest control.”

Earlier this year, it also banned Taiwanese grouper fish, a high-value seafood product from Taiwan, citing detection of some banned drugs.

Beijing’s recent announcements coincide with Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, the first visit by a sitting speaker in 25 years, and after Beijing issued stern warnings that it would take countermeasures in retaliation.

The country’s military said after Pelosi’s visit that it was launching a series of “targeted military operations to counteract the situation.”

At a press briefing on Wednesday, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “the US and Taiwan separatist forces must take the responsibility and pay the price for the mistakes they made.”

Her comments came after she was asked whether the latest export suspension are intended to punish Taiwan for Pelosi’s visit, which she declined to answer directly, saying “please ask relevant department in charge.”
Pelosi’s visit comes at a tense moment for China.

The Communist Party will undergo a leadership reshuffle at its 20th party congress this fall. President Xi Jinping is expected to seek a historic third term in power at the meeting.

Traders and analysts are worried about an escalation in China-Taiwan tensions and their impact on the global supply chain and inflation outlook.

“China’s response to Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan could have an impact on supply chains and demand, which could keep the inflationary pressures going strong,” said Edward Moya, senior market strategist for Oanda, on Wednesday.

Global supply chains have already been rattled by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The World Bank said recently that many countries are experiencing double-digit inflation.
Any conflict in Taiwan, which is key in supplying the world with semiconductors, could exacerbated the global chip shortage that has already strained the global auto industry. The Taiwan Strait is also an important shipping lane for vessels carrying goods between Asia and the West.