By Chen Yung-chang 陳永昌
In response to Japan’s release of wastewater from the Fukishima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, China announced in late August that it would suspend all imports of Japanese aquatic products. According to the statistics of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), exports of Japanese aquatic products to China plummeted by 90 percent in September — with only the “fish escaping the net,” koi, continuing to be traded.
However, after the license of the commissioned Japanese inspection organization expired at the end of last month, China has not renewed the license. So the export of Japanese koi to China has been effectively suspended starting this month.
China’s boycott of Japanese aquatic products, not based on scientific evidence, has now gone even further, with a ban on everything that swims in the water. Even the farmed koi that have nothing to do with seawater have been affected, despite koi being inedible ?— their economic value being derived from their ornamental quality. China’s excuse of “food safety supervision” is groundless.
Following the Chinese General Administration of Customs’ ban on Taiwanese agricultural and fishery products such as grouper and pineapples in August last year, it banned imports of Taiwanese cakes and pastries on the grounds of incomplete registration information. Later in December, the ban was further extended to include processed aquatic products, beverages, oils, grains and cereals.
Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cited “food safety supervision” as the reason, the first ban was actually announced on the eve of the visit of then-US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
China’s unilateral changes to the rules to make things difficult for Taiwanese food products are not free from the motive of political retaliation. Today, Beijing is simply repeating the same old trick.
Japanese officials said they have already submitted the updated application documents in accordance with the normal procedure and have also made enquiries through official diplomatic channels, but the Chinese side has delayed the matter by “having read it, but making no reply” (已讀不回).
A spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “China has not issued any announcement or document related to the temporary suspension of the importation of Japanese koi,” without any proper reason or explanation. This fully exposed Beijing’s hoodlum behavior.
Looking back at last year’s Legislative Yuan, legislators from the blue and white camps did not criticize Beijing at all. Instead, they took turns to bombard then-minister of agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) for his inaction, while taking the Japanese MAFF as an example, emphasizing that Japan had done a better job of assisting its fishermen and farmers. Some lawmakers even echoed China’s “cognitive warfare” by spreading fake news, claiming that the agency in charge had never submitted any application documents for export registration to its Chinese counterpart.
The ban on Japanese koi is just the latest example of China’s economic bullying, boycotting and blocking, which Beijing sees as political tools to express its discontent. Once the CCP targets you, the application documents or registration process are not the issue. No matter how hard Taiwanese and Japanese officials try, such efforts would be in vain.
The late Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe once said: “A Taiwanese emergency is a Japanese emergency,” and he was absolutely right. The case of Japanese koi serves as proof.
Chen Yung-chang is a company manager.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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