A pineapple episode turns against Beijing

China likes to boast that it is home to a market of 1.4 billion consumers, and it frequently uses this statistic to lure Taiwan and other countries into its poisoned embrace.

Time and time again, Beijing has used a “cultivate, trap, kill” strategy. It involves using the attractiveness of the market to attract foreign investment and companies to set up production facilities, then steal their agricultural and industrial technologies and use their know-how to develop their own businesses.

Once these domestic competitors are strong enough, Beijing uses every excuse under the sun to impose restrictions on the importation of foreign products.

Due to their overexposure to the Chinese market, to which they no longer have access, many foreign companies are forced to close their doors. In the last step, Chinese competitors move and mop up their foreign markets.

For example, an exporter of dairy fish from the Syuejia (學 甲) district of Tainan signed an agreement several years ago with a Chinese company, which then turned around and resold the dairy fish in the Taiwanese market at unbeatable prices.

It was a direct attack on the Taiwanese market and caused immense damage. It serves as a lesson on the threat posed by China’s mercantilist policy.

This strategy is often extremely effective, but this time Beijing’s evil ploys to destroy Taiwan’s pineapple industry look set to backfire.

In fact, China imports an annual average of just over 50,000 tonnes of pineapples from Taiwan.

Last year, as a result of COVID-19, that figure fell to 40,000 tonnes. Taiwanese have realized that China’s vaunted 1.4 billion consumers don’t mean much after all: it’s just bragging and boasting.

Taiwan’s population of 23 million is tiny in comparison, but Taiwan imports 17 billion yuan (US $ 2.62 billion) of beer from China each year.

Angered by the Chinese pineapple embargo, Taiwanese consumers and businesses quickly came together to support local pineapple producers: in just two days, Taiwanese had pledged to buy nearly 20,000 tonnes of pineapple premises, and within four days the lost sales had been made up. by domestic demand.

Not only did Beijing’s pineapple shenanigans come back to bite him, but the episode prompted Taiwanese to decouple the country’s economy from that of China and sparked talks of a reciprocal beer boycott.

If Taiwanese consumers unite around a boycott of Chinese beer, not only would it inflict a double whammy on Beijing, but it would also prove that Taiwan no longer has to suffer in silence and obediently submit to the bullying of Beijing.

Going forward, Chinese leaders may be deterred from militarizing trade as part of its “united front” strategy now that the cat is out of the bag.

More importantly, the “pineapple war” may have unified Taiwanese like never before, and this spirit of cohesion will only grow stronger if Beijing recklessly decides to upset Taiwan further.

John Yu is a civil servant.

Translated by Edward Jones

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