Farmers pack pineapples in Dashu District of Kaohsiung, southeast China’s Taiwan, on March 13, 2019. Pineapples in Dashu District of Kaohsiung have entered harvest season. (Xinhua/Zhang Guojun)
The Chinese mainland’s temporary ban on pineapple imports from Taiwan island is a trivial adjustment due to the detection of pests with the aim to cut off the risk of plant-caused epidemics. But in the island, this has become an earth-shattering event. Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen called on people to eat more pineapples to help farmers. Media reports in Taiwan are filled with hype over the case. Tsai’s authorities are trying their best to politicize the matter, propagandizing that the mainland is suppressing them with pineapples. They also connect the case with Beijing imposing tariffs on Australian wine while launching a “Freedom Pineapple” campaign, modeled on the “Freedom Wine” movement of Australia.
The Taiwan authorities and the pan-Green media outlets in the island insist on making a political interpretation. This is because they know they have done too many bad things to jeopardize cross-Straits ties and are feeling uneasy now. They know the mainland will punish their behavior, and believe the pineapple ban proves their presentiment and anxiety. As if they have been shivering in the dark, any sound could explode their fear, making them scream.
Either way, the DPP authority has no room to rebuke on this issue. The DPP authority has banned the import of hairy crabs from the Chinese mainland and mangosteens from Thailand. Is this all playing political cards?
The island’s market is relatively small. In fact, the DPP authority is more willing to politicalize trade activities. It is known to all that in a political operation, they imported pork and beef containing ractopamine from the US despite huge public opinion pressure against the move. In terms of cross-Straits trade, the DPP authority has repeatedly played the so-called “national security” card, echoing the US crackdown on the mainland. In the past two years they have banned Huawei, drones produced in the Chinese mainland, the online shopping app Taobao, video platform iQIYI, masks and testing reagents from the Chinese mainland, and even banned vaccines when no vaccines were available in the island. They also clamored to correspond to the US-led supply chain that excludes the Chinese mainland.
Tsai and her colleagues have lost their minds. Over 40 percent of products produced in the island go to the Chinese mainland and its annual trade surplus with the mainland is over $100 billion. Even in some Chinese mainland rim areas, their trade dependence on the mainland is one of the highest. Under such circumstances, the DPP authority does not think about how to stabilize cross-Straits trade, but clamors to implement the “new southbound strategy,” and expects the US and Japan to further open their markets to them, while all the US thinks about is how to collect more “protection fees” from the island. Tsai and her ilk are leading Taiwan astray.
More importantly, if the island can feel the considerable impact just from a pineapple trade suspension, how could the DPP authority undermine cross-Straits relations and destroy the political foundation of normal cross-Straits exchanges? For the past few years, Tsai and the DPP have tried to create hostility between the two sides as if Taiwan’s economic ties with the Chinese mainland do not matter at all, and everything can be replaced or balanced with the political and military backing of the US.
In the world today, any country or region will prioritize economic security in defending strategic security. As the pursuit of a better daily life comes first for ordinary people, fulfilling this demand is the basis for any political party to gain support. Authorities on the island of Taiwan have apparently lost themselves in seeking secession. They give little heed to the economic bonds with the mainland as if the mainland were really insignificant to the island.
From our point of view, the DPP authorities have severely failed the political goodwill of the mainland. When people on the island universally benefit from such goodwill, Tsai and her co-workers have challenged the mainland’s patience and red line by making malicious use of this goodwill and turning it into material for them to commit misconduct.
The DPP authorities should be put on notice. They could trigger a domino effect-like overturn of the situation in the Straits. Such a small economy like the island can have a surplus of over one hundred billion dollar against the Chinese mainland because of the mainland’s preferential policies for Taiwan, which are based on the mainland’s long-term adherence to peaceful reunification.
The DPP authorities should not push the mainland in the direction of complete disappointment and force it to adjust its preferential policies toward Taiwan’s economy. At that time, the ban on pineapples from Taiwan will not even qualify as a card to play. Whatever card it will be, it will bring a long nightmare to the DPP authorities.
It is hoped that the island authorities can be realistic and stop biting off more than they can chew. The ban on pineapples is not worthy of political hype, and the DPP authorities should mind their words and actions before they invite unbearable disasters to the island.