China suspends mango imports from Taiwan after VP Lai's U.S. transits

China decided Monday to suspend mango imports from Taiwan, citing pests found in the fruit earlier this year, though the measure is believed to be a direct response to recent U.S. stopovers by the island's Vice President Lai Ching-te during his Paraguay trip.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for China's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said in a statement that Beijing has urged Taipei to improve its quarantine controls. The step follows military drills launched by the mainland near Taiwan over the weekend.

Taiwan's Ministry of Agriculture said Monday it has not received any such complaints from other export destinations and "deeply regrets" China's practice of arbitrarily suspending trade without scientific dialogue, saying it is inconsistent with international practices.

After receiving notifications from mainland China about the pests this year, the ministry told Beijing that it had improved field cultivation and fruit selection management but received no reply.

The ministry said it will continue to call on mainland China to conduct technical dialogue to find a solution, adding the Taiwan government will explore measures such as strengthening domestic marketing in the meantime.

Between January and July this year, Taiwan exported 3,873 tons of mangoes, with 1,458 tons going to Hong Kong, 938 tons to mainland China, 715 tons to Japan and 628 tons to South Korea, according to the ministry.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 due to a civil war. Beijing, which regards the territory as a renegade province and intends to unify it with the mainland, by force if necessary, opposes any official contact it has with other countries.

© Kyodo News