He said the ban was imposed without any warning and came at the worst time for producers already bruised by the coronavirus pandemic.
The fish farmer says his business and others are relying too much on the lucrative China market and need to diversify away from their aggressive neighbour after the surprise ban.
“Everyone felt the COVID-19 situation was slowly improving and the China market is slowly stabilising and prices will rise again, so there will be… some profit to make up for the previous losses,” he said.
“That’s why everyone’s anxiety and (the sanctions’) impact are very big.”
SYMBOLIC AND LIMITED
China remains Taiwan’s largest trading partner, with the mainland accounting for 28 percent of total exports.
But Taiwan’s government and businesses have also pushed economic diversification in response to Beijing’s increased aggression under President Xi Jinping, China’s most authoritarian leader in a generation.
Since 2016, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has pursued a “New Southbound Policy” to grow trade with the rest of Southeast and East Asia.
Taiwan is also seeing a surge of sympathy from like-minded democracies in the region.
Much of last year’s pineapple harvest was saved when Japanese consumers rushed to purchase “freedom pineapples” in an act of solidarity.
And China has so far been careful with what it targets.
Taiwan is one of the world’s largest producers of semiconductor chips, and Beijing has steered clear of hitting a market it leans on to satisfy demand at home.
“China is highly selective in choosing the instruments of economic sanctions against Taiwan,” Christina Lai, a research fellow at Taiwan’s government-run Academia Sinica told AFP.
“It has always refrained from damaging its domestic economy and technology industries. Beijing cannot afford to ban the most crucial imports from Taiwan – semiconductors, high-end instruments, or machinery,” she added.
The overall impact on Taiwan’s economy is therefore “very limited”, said National Taiwan Normal University professor Fan Shih-ping.
“It is a political manipulation, as China wants to show it is calling the shots and has control over Taiwan,” he added.
But for farmers who have become the victims of the latest uptick in tensions, the scale of the sanctions feels seismic.
“We are looking for help from the government, if there’s any way they can help us,” said Ou.
“We have to start to find some sales within the country. This is a big headache.”
Source: Channel News Asia