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  • [in Mandarin] I have been helping my family farm since I was in school.

  • Hsieh is one of hundreds of farmers in Taiwan that grow atemoya

  • a variety of custard apple.

  • [in Mandarin] The texture is rather chewy.

  • [in Mandarin] It is sweet, but it has a hint of sour, making the flavor unique.

  • It's one of the island's most popular fruit exports.

  • Every season, farmers like Hsieh export around 14 million kilos.

  • And 90% percent of that goes to China.

  • But in September of 2021, China banned all imports of atemoya.

  • They claimed they had pests.

  • [in Mandarin] I was surprised it finally happened.

  • Overnight, Hsieh lost 70 percent of his orders.

  • But this story is about more than just fruit, pests, or trade.

  • Atemoyas are a symbol of deep tensions between Taiwan and China

  • that have been simmering for decades.

  • So how did this innocent tropical fruit get caught in the middle of all this?

  • The complicated relationship between China and Taiwan dates back to the 1940s.

  • Back then, China was in the middle of a brutal civil war between

  • the nationalists and the communists.

  • When the communists won, they established the People's Republic of China on the mainland.

  • The nationalists fled to Taiwan and called it the Republic of China.

  • They both declared themselves the rightful ruler of China.

  • A claim that today only the mainland really upholds.

  • Taiwan isn't officially recognized as an independent country.

  • But it has developed into a self-governing democracy

  • with a constitution, legislature, and president.

  • Since the civil war ended, Taiwan's KMT party has been in power most of the time.

  • And while they maintained sovereignty they also grew closer to China.

  • But in 2014, many felt they got too close.

  • They passed a trade pact that opened up Taiwanese industries to Chinese investment.

  • And thousands of protesters stormed the government.

  • [chanting] "Review the trade pact! Review the trade pact!"

  • They feared the pact would hurt Taiwan's economy and

  • leave it vulnerable to pressure from China.

  • Soon after, Taiwan's opposition party was voted into power

  • for only the second time in the island's history.

  • And this new president continued to push back against China.

  • We will not accept the Beijing authorities' use of

  • 'one country, two systems' to downgrade Taiwan

  • And undermine the cross-strait status quo."

  • [in Mandarin] It's been five years, and cross-strait relations are silent.

  • Instead, China has intensified its pressure campaign

  • to unify Taiwan with the mainland.

  • Complete reunification of the motherland can be

  • and must be fulfilled.”

  • Military incursions are on a steep rise.

  • China has sent hundreds of fighter jets into Taiwanese airspace.

  • And they've conducted military drills designed to intimidate.

  • They've also coerced other countries and world organizations

  • from formally recognizing Taiwan.

  • A big part of China's pressure campaign comes down to

  • isolating Taiwan from the rest of the world.

  • But with this tropical fruit, China is doing something different.

  • It's pressuring Taiwan from within.

  • China is Taiwan's largest trading partner.

  • More than a quarter of all exports go to the mainland.

  • And that's in part because they offer incentives.

  • Like dropping all tariffs on these Taiwanese fruits.

  • [in Mandarin] On the surface it looks like anexchange

  • but in reality it's a way to win Taiwanese hearts.

  • [in Mandarin]It's a comprehensive top-down strategy, wrapping around

  • Taiwan's agriculture, farmers and agricultural products like a net.

  • And this net can easily trap farmers.

  • Like Hsieh who switched to growing atemoyas exclusively 7 years ago.

  • [in Mandarin] The export volume was increasing dramatically.

  • So we took advantage of the trend and switched fully to atemoya.

  • There was so much money to be made selling to China,

  • that many farmers in the region also switched to atemoya.

  • And production tripled.

  • This brought jobs and a more sustainable economy.

  • But there was a catch.

  • Because of all the incentives China offers Taiwan,

  • a huge number of farmers rely on China to make a living.

  • And this creates a dangerous dependency.

  • Because it allows China to disrupt trade flow with, say, a fruit ban.

  • That hurts fruit farmers in Taiwan

  • Which could push them into blaming the government for worsening relations with China.

  • [in Mandarin] The motivations behind China's ban are politics and elections.

  • [in Mandarin] China's ambition for Taiwan has always been unification.

  • [in Mandarin] When they have patience, they might give you small benefits,

  • hoping your impression of them will slowly turn positive.

  • [in Mandarin] When they lose patience, they might create psychological threats.

  • [in Mandarin] Like they are doing now.

  • And while the threat might be aimed at Taiwan's government

  • it's farmers like Hsieh, who feel the impact the most.

  • Since the ban his income has dropped by more than 50 percent.

  • [in Mandarin] We need to help each other sell fruit without losing money.

  • [in Mandarin] This is what we have to work hard on right now.

  • Atemoyas are the latest target, but not the only one.

  • China also banned wax apples.

  • And in early 2021, pineapples too.

  • Just like the atemoyays, China claimed the pineapples had pests.

  • [in Mandarin] I was very worried and scared when I heard about the ban

  • because I already invested so much money and effort.

  • [in Mandarin] I was scared.

  • Pineapples are the most popular fruit exported to China.

  • They account for about 60 million US dollars.

  • So pineapple farmers are stuck in the same cycle of dependency.

  • But this time, Taiwan did something different.

  • They launched a campaign.

  • And it went viral.

  • World leaders and diplomats posed with the Taiwanese pineapple.

  • And Japan and Hong Kong replaced China as Taiwan's top pineapple importers.

  • Domestically, citizens bought an entire year's worth of pineapple exports in 4 days.

  • Restaurants across the island added pineapple to everything.

  • And it helped.

  • But dependency on China runs deep.

  • China wasn't just a big market.

  • It was an especially profitable one too.

  • [in Mandarin] To be honest, those sales channels are far from comparable.

  • [in Mandarin] Elsewhere, costs go up by 20% — 30%.

  • [in Mandarin] You can't make as much money if you don't export to China.

  • [in Mandarin] It's a loss for us farmers.

  • That's because, If Taiwan doesn't sell fruit to China

  • their only choice is to go north to Japan and South Korea.

  • Further south, in Southeast Asia, tropical fruits are much cheaper.

  • Longer distances are also complicated for fresh fruits that require

  • cool temperatures and special storage conditions.

  • At home, the Taiwanese government has offered financial help

  • but most of it is going to exporters and not small farmers.

  • [in Mandarin] The government wants to boost sales by subsidizing exporters.

  • [in Mandarin] But us farmers have not benefited and we are not happy.

  • [in Mandarin] If you look at it from a strategic perspective,

  • our enemy grabbed our Achilles' heel.

  • [in Mandarin] This crisis has forced farmers, producers, and exporters

  • to review this problem.

  • [in Mandarin] They should've done this when dependency on the Chinese

  • market was very high.

  • [in Mandarin] But better now than never.

  • So instead of trying to replace the deep-rooted market China created.

  • Some farmers are starting to replace their crops.

  • [in Mandarin] We have reduced production. I now grow about 50% less than before.

  • [in Mandarin] I also started to invest in bananas and taros.

  • [in Mandarin] We don't rule out the possibility (of replacing our crops).

  • [in Mandarin] We'll have to think about adjustments after this harvest.

  • Because as long as Taiwan's farmers are trapped

  • in the middle of this geopolitical fight,

  • their livelihoods will always be at risk.

[in Mandarin] I have been helping my family farm since I was in school.

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How China uses fruit to punish Taiwan

  • 28 3
    penny に公開 2022 年 04 月 12 日
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