It might be the world’s most heated dispute over pineapple, even eclipsing the interminable debate about whether or not it belongs on pizza.
Last month, China banned Taiwanese pineapple imports, citing the risk of “harmful creatures” that could affect its crops.
The move infuriated Taiwan’s leaders, who said the move had nothing to try to with bugs and was instead an example of China ramping up political pressure on the island, which Beijing considers a province of China.
In response, Taiwan’s leaders sought out new customers overseas and asked locals to eat what Chinese consumers no longer could.
“Taiwanese pineapples are stronger than fighter jets. Geopolitical pressures cannot squeeze their deliciousness,” declared Taiwan’s vice chairman Lai Ching-te, in a tweet.
According to Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture, the island produces 420,000 tonnes of pineapple annually, and exported a touch over 10% of that last year, with most of it going to China.
Without mainland sales, Taiwanese growers face a possible glut of pineapples, and with it a danger that prices might fall.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu used his Ministry’s Twitter account to “urge like-minded friends around the globe to stand with #Taiwan & rally behind the #FreedomPineapple”.
The de facto embassies of the US and Canada in Taiwan were happy to oblige.
The American Institute in Taiwan posted several pictures to its Facebook page, including one of its director Brent Christensen with three pineapples on his desk.
The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei posted a photo of staff posing around a pineapple pizza, with a polite reminder that it was Canada’s idea rather than Hawaii’s.
“We in the Canadian Office like pineapple pizza, especially pineapples from Taiwan!” the post said.
Japanese consumers might have made the biggest difference, with orders for 5,000 tonnes coming from Japan, Ms. Tsai said.
Many Japanese Twitter users also expressed their support.