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March 18, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9240

Following Beijing Ban On Taiwanese Pineapple Imports, Chinese Media Mock Taiwan's 'Freedom Pineapple' Campaign

March 18, 2021
China | Special Dispatch No. 9240

On February 26, 2021, Beijing announced that it would suspend imports of pineapples from Taiwan effective March 1, 2021, citing "standard biosafety precautions" and claiming that "many times, pests that require quarantine from pineapples imported from Taiwan Province have been intercepted by Mainland Customs." The message caused an uproar in Taiwan, which last year exported 90% of its tropical fruit to mainland China.

The Taiwanese government rejected the Chinese claim and said that the ban was another form of economic coercion by China to pressure Taiwan's ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). In a response on the day of the announcement, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted: "After Australian wine, unfair Chinese trade practices are now targeting Taiwanese pineapples. But that won't stop us. Whether in a smoothie, a cake, or freshly cut on a plate, our pineapples always hit the spot. Support our farmers & enjoy delicious Taiwanese fruit!"[1]

With a surplus of pineapple products, the Taiwanese government has led efforts to increase local consumption as a show of patriotism and support for democracy – among them a successful #FreedomPineapple online campaign.[2]

Taiwan's pineapple campaign sparked a debate in the Chinese media, which mocked and attempted to undermine the initiative. For example, on March 1, the Shanghai-based news outlet The Observer published an article deriding the Taiwanese #Freedompineapple campaign, titled "Is It Difficult To Eat 18 Kg Of Pineapples Per Person Per Day For Two Weeks?"

Below is the Observer article:[3]


Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. (Source: Twitter.com/iingwen, February 26, 2021)

Eating 18 Kg Of Pineapple A Day

"The island's media has been inundated with reports about the ban after the mainland's General Administration of Customs agreed to ban the import of pineapples from Taiwan starting March 1 this year, which have not stopped since.

"Some Taiwanese people began acting tough, saying things like 'it's a minor issue, no problem.' They behaved as if they were up against a formidable foe whom they need to use a combination of 'odd tricks' to subdue. On February 28, Taiwanese 'talking head' Huang Chuang-shia made an odd speech on his political show I Know, urging Taiwanese people to 'eat 18 kilograms of pineapple a day' to solve the pineapple stockpile crisis.

"According to the Department of Statistics on the Island, the region's fresh pineapple export volume reached 45,621 tons last year, with the mainland accounting for more than 95 percent of the total. The total pineapple planting area on the island is projected to exceed 7869 hectares this year, with a production of 415,901 tons.

"In this regard, Huang Chuang-shia believed that 'the pressure isn't that bad,' that 'the numbers will speak for themselves,' and that 'we have nothing to fear because we can rely on support for farmers and support for the past.' And how might this 'support' work? '430,000 tons of pineapples divided by 23 million people means we only have to eat 18 kilograms each. This problem can be solved in four or five days.'


Huang Chuang-shia. Caption: "We only have to eat 18 kilograms each" (Source: The Observer)

"Huang gradually 'upped the ante' as he spoke: 'If each person eats 18 kilograms per day for two weeks, it's tolerable... Is it challenging? A pineapple weighs three kilos. Is that difficult? No, not at all".

"Netizens have begun roasting Huang after viewing his remarks:


Comment #1: "I woke up laughing in the middle of the f-ing night."
Comment #2: "An average person eats a couple of hundred grams each meal… Can people in Taiwan eat 6 kilograms? Of course not."
Comment #3: "If a person weighs 100 pounds, he eats a third of his body weight every day. Amazing."
(Source: The Observer)

"Some people said that, even according to him, if one pineapple is 3 kilograms, it would be necessary to eat 6 of them. Data shows that except for the Smooth Cayenne Pineapple variety (which weighs more than 1.1kg), other varieties weigh about 0.4kg to 1.5kg.


Four pineapple varieties (Source: The Observer)

"Some suggested that instead of 'talking the good game,' he should start livestreaming himself eating.


Caption: "On 18:18 every weekday, a live stream of Huang Chuang-shia eating 18 kilograms of pineapples." (Source: The Observer)

"A netizen who looked up the recommended amount of pineapple consumption said that he 'felt sorry' for him:


The above post first lists the health benefits of eating the recommended daily intake of pineapples, and then warns against the side effects of consuming large quantities of the fruit, which may induce abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, etc. (Source: The Observer)

New Pineapple Recipes

"In addition to Huang Chuang-shia, Fan Yun, a 'legislator' for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), posted on Facebook on February 27, suggesting ways for Taiwanese people to incorporate pineapple into their cooking by making: pineapple bitter melon chicken, pineapple shrimp balls, pineapple fried mushroom, pineapple roasted fish, Hawaiian pizza, pineapple juice, pineapple crisp...


(Source: The Observer)

"Over time, eating pineapple at all three meals has become a hit on the island.

"Healthy chicken pineapple camphor [Cinnamomum camphora]:


(Source: The Observer)

"Pineapple sprinkled with plum powder:


(Source: The Observer)

"Some people in Taiwan Province have accused the mainland of 'political repression' as the reason for the mainland's suspension of pineapple imports from Taiwan Province. On [February] 26, however, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, gave a clear response to this matter.

"'This is a standard biosafety precaution, scientifically sound and reasonable, and in accordance with mainland laws, regulations, and standards. Many times, pests that require quarantine from pineapples imported from Taiwan Province have been intercepted by Mainland Customs. These pests will pose a serious threat to agricultural production and ecological security in mainland China once they are introduced. The General Administration of Customs made the decision in order to prevent the risk of a plant disease epidemic from the source.'"

 

[1] Twitter.com/iingwen, February 26, 2021.

[2] Taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4137925, February 27, 2021.

[3] Mp.weixin.qq.com/s/iQLd05hAfS4lfF_Ei0ROqw, March 1, 2021.

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