Pineapple Ban Another Prickle In Cross-Strait Relations
Posted April 15, 2021
External Article: East Asia Forum
Dalton Lin, assistant professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, wrote the piece "Pineapple Ban Another Prickle In Cross-Strait Relations," published April 15, 2021 in East Asia Forum.
The article discusses the state of geopolitics between Taiwan and China through the context of a recent ban on the importation of Taiwanese pineapple by China.
Unlike the banana ban in 2012, this pineapple ban’s timing appears mysterious because no incident preceded the suspension. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called the announcement ‘ambush-like’ .
The larger background to this ban involves the triangular dynamics between Beijing, Taipei and Washington. The Biden administration’s statements and actions since its inauguration indicate that it will continue the Trump administration’s strong support of Taiwan. The pineapple ban is Beijing’s signal to Taipei that it cannot circumvent the influence of Beijing over its affairs, even with US support.
The ban could also be explained with reference to Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government having recently reshuffled its Mainland Affairs Council (MAC). The new MAC head has signalled optimistic expectations in breaking the cross-Strait impasse. The pineapple ban lays bare the reality of cross-Strait relations when there is no official channel to deal with an issue as minor as ‘harmful creatures’ found on pineapples. Beijing reiterated its political precondition for exchange — that Taipei needs to find a way to come to terms with Beijing’s ‘one China’ principle — and laid the blame for disrupted cross-Strait relations on the DPP government.