China suspends some Taiwanese imports and halts export of sand to Taiwan

China has suspended the import of citrus fruits and some fish products from Taiwan and the export of natural sand to the island, Chinese authorities said Wednesday, amid a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang said Wednesday that the import of grapefruit, lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits, as well as chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan to China had been suspended.

In a separate statement, Chinese Customs said the import suspension of citrus fruit is a result of “pest control” and “excessive pesticide residues,” and cited “Covid prevention” for the suspension of seafood imports.

Sand export ban: Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Commerce also announced Wednesday it is immediately suspending its export of natural sand to Taiwan, a key component for the production of semi-conductor chips.

In a statement Wednesday following the announcement, Taiwan’s Bureau of Mines said China suspending its sand exports would have a “limited” effect and that Taiwan’s domestic demand for Chinese sand accounts for “less than 1%” in recent years.

Some context: Amid escalating tensions with Taiwan in recent years, China has previously banned imports of some Taiwanese products. Last year, China banned imports of pineapples from the island followed by some types of apples, citing “pest control.” Earlier this year, it also banned Taiwanese grouper fish, citing detection of some banned drugs and excessive antibiotics.

Beijing’s recent announcements coincide with Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the first trip to the self-ruled island by a sitting speaker in 25 years, and after Beijing issued stern warnings that it would take countermeasures in retaliation.

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