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China said Friday it will suspend pineapple imports from Taiwan, a move the self-ruled island sees as a political retaliation in response to the island’s independence-leaning government’s refusal to toe Beijing’s line.

China’s General Administration of Customs announced the suspension of pineapple imports from Taiwan to the mainland starting March 1.

“The mainland’s customs has intercepted quarantine pests among pineapples from Taiwan since 2020,” spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council Ma Xiaoguang said.

Ma added that the decision was a normal biosafety precaution in line with China’s laws, regulations and standards.

Describing China’s decision as “not very friendly behavior,” Presidential Office spokesman Chang Tun-han said on his Facebook page that the government decided to spend NT$1 billion (US$36 million) to offset the impact such as strengthening the promotion of pineapples at home and abroad.

Chien Shu-pei, spokeswoman of President Tsai Ing-wen’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, described China’s decision as “economic coercion” that leads people to question its “political motive.”

Expressing regret, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung told an emergency press conference that he found China’s “unilateral” decision “surprising” and “unacceptable.”

Chen said it not only creates trouble for both sides, but also violates rules of international trade, urging Chinese authorities to sit down and talk about the issue from the perspectives of science, professionalism and international trade.

He said Taiwan produces about 420,000 tons of pineapples annually. China is its largest market, buying more than 42,000 tons annually with a value of nearly NT$1.5 billion, Chen said.