China Suspends Import of Taiwanese Pineapples, Cross-Strait Rapprochement Hopeless?
Mainland China announced that effective March 1, it would suspend imports of Taiwanese pineapples, a move that seriously affects the livelihood of fruit farmers. President Tsai Ing-wen angrily accused China's sudden notice as showcasing unusual considerations beyond trade.
China Suspends Import of Taiwanese Pineapples, Council of Agriculture Plans NT$1 Billion Relief Spending
China Times, February 27, 2021
On grounds of quarantine, mainland Chinese authorities announced the suspension of Taiwanese pineapple imports from March 1. Given that more than 90 percent of Taiwan’s pineapple exports are to the mainland, this "pineapple ban” threatens to hit the Taiwanese pineapple market. The Council of Agriculture (COA) immediately launched a billion-dollar (about US$36 million) rescue plan in response. The message conveyed by the Office of the President was consistent, first calling the ban “a bad faith act,” then characterizing it as an “ambush” and “aberrant.” Unexpectedly, Premier Su Tseng-chang, who has generally been critical of China, appeared to have softened his tone. During interpellation at the Legislative Yuan, Su urged not to “elevate the issue to a political level” and consider it an action taken for quarantine purposes.
To address the difference in tone from the government, the Office of the President has held to its original messaging, which it asserts is the tone of the response. Premier Su’s answer in the Legislative Yuan was not a softer viewpoint but simply a response to the inquiry.
According to a commentator, mainland China's ban of Taiwanese pineapples is premised as an ugly gesture towards the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen. Although the Tsai administration had expected that the mainland would take this step, it did not prepare for this in advance and is only employing populist tactics to manipulate the sentiments of the people.
(Photo from: China Times)
What After Eating Pineapples in Grief and Indignation?
By Fang Hsu
China Times, February 27
China’s General Administration of Customs recently announced suspending importation of Taiwanese pineapples effective March 1 sent shockwaves across Taiwan. Some 12.5 percent of Taiwan's pineapples are exported, and over 90 percent are sold to the mainland. The ban on pineapples directly affects farmers' income. Both ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and opposition Kuomintang (KMT) politicians immediately voiced support for local farmers and condemned mainland China. But the issue here is that from President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President William Lai to the legislators and local officials affiliated with the DPP, they all chanted the slogans "Eat pineapples! support farmers!" Their way of dealing with this blow is to ask the people to eat more pineapples. Are the major cross-strait issues left with only the intuitive response of populism?
Following the previous example of hyping Australian "Freedom red wine," Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu called on the world to stand with Taiwan and "rally behind the #freedom pineapple." Previously, when China imposed obstacles on Australian wine, beef, barley, and other products, the DPP called for increasing purchase. It did not help solve the problem. At best, it was fodders for domestic propaganda and anti-China campaign; Now it is time for the government to take action to solve the problem. But it still uses the grand domestic propaganda to muddle through.
The Datan algae reef referendum case has led to an unexpected recent wave of social movement and cooperation between civic groups and the opposition camp. These developments have attracted the scrutiny of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration in Taiwan. (Photo from: United Daily News)
No Wonder DPP is Afraid of the Algae Reef Referendum
By Huang Shih-an
China Times, February 26, 2021
The campaign to collect enough signed petitions to file a referendum to protect the algal reefs at Datan, Taoyuan, has surprisingly created a new wave of social movement after Chinese New Year and has attracted the attention of high-level officials within the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Normally, a referendum getting probably nowhere can’t draw any attention from the high ranks within the DPP. A case in point is the referendum to ban the imports of pork containing ractopamine, which was initiated by the Kuomintang (KMT) and has collected more than 600,000 signatures, has never received any serious attention from the DPP. So why is the algal reef referendum any different?
The answer is that the tactics of the algal reef referendum to gain social momentum and collect signatures is the same as the DPP used to defeat the KMT, then the ruling party. The algal reef referendum has gathered the support from various elements such as YouTubers, celebrities, scholars and writers and has quickly gone viral among young people’s social media and universities and colleges. All of a sudden, the algal reef referendum has become a new wave that erodes the DPP’s foundation of young voters.
Recently, the proposed referendum on "cherishing algae reef" is rapidly accumulating in signatures and has exceeded the legal threshold of 289,000 signatures set forth by the Central Election Commission. (Photo from: United Daily News)
February 22: A thick haze occurring in the early morning of February 21 on the Yunlin section of Taiwan's Provincial Highway No. 61, also known as West Coast Expressway, contributed to serious collisions involving 21 cars and causing two deaths and eight injuries. Investigation revealed that the highway 308 kilometers long was equipped with only one fog detector, and early warming devices were seriously inadequate. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) convened and finalized a seven-point road safety improvement plan, under which 16 fog detectors would be installed on the West Coast Expressway within one year, consistent with the density on National Highways.
February 23: The MOTC announced that effective March 2, restrictions on food and drink on business areas of public transportation and post offices would be lifted; food and drink services and unassigned seating services of the Taiwan High Speed Rail would be restored; and ticket purchase restrictions on inter-city Taiwan Railways services would be canceled.
February 24: Considering the slowdown of the global pandemic, sufficient epidemic prevention capacity within Taiwan, and needs for business and trade exchanges, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that effective March 1, foreigners (including mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, and Macao people) with valid Taiwanese residency permits, may enter Taiwan without applying for entry, those from low and medium-low risk countries and regions may travel to Taiwan for business activity may shorten their home quarantine period. But those who enter Taiwan still need to provide proof of a negative nucleic-acid test, and home isolation must comply with the guideline of "one household, one person."
February 26: The start time of the 2021 annual Dajia Mazu pilgrimage was decided by poe divination to be 11:05 PM on April 9. The theme of this year's procession is "promise." In the interest of epidemic prevention, followers may enter the Dajia Jenn Lann Temple in Taichung by name registration, and meal boxes will replace regular big- pot dishes.
February 26: Responding to interpellation at the Legislative Yuan, Premier Su Tseng-chang stated that Taiwan has obtained for certain 20 million doses of foreign vaccines and may start supplying them in the first quarter. According to Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, inoculation of domestically produced vaccines may begin July.
February 28: In order to protect the algae reef in the Datan area of Guanyin District, Taoyuan, from destruction due to development of the third natural gas receiving station managed by CPC Corporation, civic groups launched an "algae reef referendum" initiative for which environmental groups and opposition parties are endeavoring to collect a sufficient number of signatures by the end of February. Retaliation by the Office of the President, Executive Yuan, and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party triggered a surge in signature count. As of the evening of February 28, the number of signatures have exceeded the legal threshold of 290,000 and approaching a "safe" conservative threshold of 350,000. The deadline for filing the referendum petition is March 17.
Update: As of March 2, the referendum initiative garnered more than 350,000 signatures.