China squeezes Taiwan with military drills, trade threats, mango ban

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Chinese President Xi Jinping stepped up pressure on Taiwan ahead of the January presidential elections in the island nation, using economic and military tactics such as a ban on importing Taiwanese mangoes.

What Happened: China is exerting its economic and military influence in an attempt to sway the upcoming Taiwanese presidential election.

Observers see this move as part of a broader strategy to influence the Taiwanese populace. “The intent to use the threat of economic sanctions to shape the Taiwanese electorate is clear,” said Wen Ti Sung, a political scientist at the Australian National University.

China declared a halt on Taiwanese mango imports on Monday, citing them as a “severe threat” to its agricultural and ecological security due to the presence of citrus mealybugs in the fruit shipments.

This action follows previous bans on Taiwanese apples, pineapples, and grouper fish.

Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Liu Yung Chien told the publication, “Whether it is military threats, diplomatic suppression or economic and trade coercion,” China has “ulterior motives.”

“The purpose is to attack the government, divide the society and intimidate and affect the confidence of this country’s people,” it said, adding, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns the Chinese government’s brutal election interference in the strongest terms.”

Why It Matters: The military and economic pressure from China has been escalating in recent times. In August, the Chinese army staged a military drill near near Taiwan in a stark warning to separatist forces, following U.S. stopovers by the Taiwanese vice president and the presidential hopeful.

This came after Kyle Bass, a prominent China hawk and founder of U.S. investment firm Hayman Capital Management, warned that Xi could potentially launch an invasion of Taiwan by 2024.

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