Expert cites food safety risks; exports of natural sand to region also halted
A pile of natural sand is seen on Wednesday at a construction site in Zhangye, Gansu province. The Chinese mainland has announced the suspension of natural sand exports to Taiwan. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
The Chinese mainland's latest actions on trade with Taiwan are based on Chinese laws and regulations, and healthy cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation will benefit both, according to trade experts and analysts on Wednesday.
The mainland announced on Wednesday the suspension of exports of natural sand to Taiwan. It also halted the entry of citrus fruit, including grapefruit, lemons and oranges, as well as chilled white hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from the island, in accordance with the mainland's relevant regulations and requirements.
Experts said that the suspensions are legitimate and worth noticing, considering the key role the mainland plays in Taiwan's import and export activity of related products.
"Anyone with rationality knows that close relations between the mainland and the island benefit both," said Zhang Yansheng, chief researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
"The mainland has supported the development of the Taiwan region with various actions for many years, for instance, exporting natural sand to Taiwan despite the fact that mining it harms the environment," he said.
"The huge potential of the mainland market provides ample growth opportunities for Taiwan enterprises and investors," he added.
Customs data show that Taiwan's exports to the mainland surged 24.7 percent year-on-year to $249.98 billion in 2021, and its purchases from the mainland were $78.36 billion last year, growing 30.4 percent from 2020.
Taiwan's trade surplus with the mainland last year was as high as $171.6 billion, up $31.1 billion from that in 2020.
Overall, the Chinese mainland is Taiwan's biggest export market.
Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce, said Taiwan relies heavily on natural sand supplies from the mainland.
Around one-third of all natural sand used in Taiwan annually comes from the mainland, he said. Wei is also vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
Natural sand is an important raw material used in construction for producing concrete and asphalt, and quartz sand, a type of natural sand, is an important raw material used in chip manufacturing, a key industry in Taiwan, according to Wei.
To protect its environment and natural resources, China announced in December 2006 that it would stop all exports of natural sand beginning in March 2007.However, considering the reliance of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao on natural sand supplies from the mainland, and to support the economic development in those regions, the Chinese mainland resumed natural sand exports to Hong Kong and Macao in March 2007 and to Taiwan in March 2008.
Cui Fengyun, a researcher at the institute of food safety of the General Administration of Customs' science and technology research center, said the mainland's suspension of imports of fruit and fish products from Taiwan is a practice of implementing the mainland's relevant regulations and requirements to prevent risks to food safety.
Since last year, Customs authorities on the mainland have repeatedly detected quarantine pests, such as plant matter that could negatively affect the mainland market if it were not controlled, as well as excessive amounts of the chemical pesticides fenthion and dimethoate in citrus fruit shipped to the mainland from Taiwan.
In June, packaging of chilled white hairtail and frozen horse mackerel shipped from Taiwan to the mainland tested positive for traces of COVID-19.
Contact the writers at email@example.com