11 July 2024

(AFP) – Taiwan’s premier on Sunday accused China of violating international trade rules and “discriminating” against the island after it halted more Taiwanese imports.

According to Taiwan’s finance ministry, Chinese customs authorities “suddenly suspended” imports of certain alcoholic beverages from the island on Friday.

It said the move was related to a regulation Beijing imposed on January 1 that requires all food and alcoholic beverage exporters to the mainland to be registered with Chinese customs. Some Taiwanese companies had still been under review.

Premier Su Tseng-chang accused Beijing of violating World Trade Organization (WTO) norms by “making its own rules” and “meddling in trade through administrative means”.

China “is especially tough on Taiwan and especially discriminates against Taiwan… They’ve asked Taiwan to do this and do that,” he told reporters on Sunday.

Taiwan plans to appeal to the WTO and will assist the affected businesses, he added.

Beijing claims self-ruled democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be taken one day, by force if necessary.

It has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on the island since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, and has previously banned imports of other products from the island as relations deteriorated.

“Heard that the #PRC is banning some products from #Taiwan again, including our beer,” Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu tweeted on Sunday, using the hashtag “FreedomBeer”.

“Economic coercion of course. But they don’t know what they’re missing: the great taste of freedom.”

China slapped fresh bans on certain fruit and fish imports in retaliation for US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August, which prompted a furious response from Beijing and a flurry of military drills.

A year earlier, pineapple imports were halted after Chinese authorities claimed to have discovered pests in shipments, just as the annual harvest was under way.

Taiwanese officials said some 2,400 registration applications from food, food processing, fishery and alcohol companies could not be completed. Around 600 applications will be resubmitted, while the rest are expected to be dropped.

Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency reported 11 out of 28 beer and distillery products registered by Taiwanese exporters had been suspended from Friday, citing Chinese customs.

The affected companies include state-run Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corp.

Shipments of 123 out of 354 other beverage items have also been halted, including those from Taiwanese food giant Uni-President Enterprises, the report said.

Taiwan sold $250 million worth of beverages and $43.4 million dollars in alcoholic products to China last year, official data showed.