Taiwan threatens to take China to WTO in new spat over fruit

TAIPEI / BEIJING (Reuters) - Taiwan threatened to take China to the World Trade Organization on Sunday after Beijing announced it would suspend imports of sugar apples and wax apples from the island amid pest concerns in the two's recent fruit dispute.
Relations between Taipei and Beijing, which claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, are at their lowest level in decades, with China increasing political and military pressure to get the island to accept its sovereignty.
China's customs administration said it had repeatedly found pests called "Planococcus minor" in sugar apples, also known as sweetsops or custard apples, and wax apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all directly affiliated offices to suspend customs clearance of these products from Monday.
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Taiwan's Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung said China acted unilaterally without providing any scientific evidence and criticized the announcement that it would come during the traditional mid-autumn festival celebrated by Taiwan and China.
"We cannot accept this," Chen told reporters in Taipei about the decision, which his office only received at 9:00 am (0100 GMT) on Sunday.
Taiwan has told China that it will take the country to the WTO under the panel's dispute settlement mechanism if Beijing does not respond to Taipei's request before September 30 to resolve the issue within the existing bilateral framework, he added.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu tweeted that after its military threats, China is now "arming the arms trade" and the move last week should raise doubts about its application https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-officially -applies -join-cptpp-trade-pact-2021-09-16 to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade group.
"China wants to join the CPTPP with a high standard? Is that a joke? ”Wu said.
Sugar apples and wax apples are Taiwanese specialties, although most are consumed domestically. The island is also known for its mangoes.
This is the second time this year that China has stopped importing fruit from Taiwan.
In February, China banned the import of pineapples https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-taiwan-pineapple-idUSKCN2AT2DY from Taiwan, citing "harmful creatures" that could come with the fruit. Taiwan had said there was nothing wrong with the pineapples and accused Beijing https://www.reuters.com/world/china/forbidden-fruit-taiwan-urges-people-eat-more-pineapples-after-china-ban-2021 -02-26 politics to play.
(Reporting by Min Zhang and Tony Munroe in Beijing and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Edmund Klamann)

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