China unilaterally bans imports of farmed grouper from Taiwan

Taiwan is reacting sharply to China's ban on the import of a type of farm-raised fish from Taiwan.

Officials from Taiwan's Council of Agriculture told reporters on Saturday that they had been notified by Chinese customs authorities on Friday night that China would suspend imports of grouper, starting on Monday.

The Chinese authorities cited as the reason for the measure the detection of banned drugs on multiple occasions.

The Agriculture Council admitted that some of the fish had failed to clear Chinese quarantine regulations in June and December last year. But it said that no problem had been found during recent inspections by Taiwanese officials of the producers and other parties.

Taiwanese officials say it's common practice to send products back or throw them away when a banned substance is detected. They accuse China of taking a unilateral measure that goes against established international trade norms.

Grouper are raised in the southern part of Taiwan and fetch high prices. The Agriculture Council says 40 percent of the farmed fish were exported last year, of which 90 percent ended up in China.

China last year imposed an import ban on pineapples and two other kinds of fruit from Taiwan on the grounds that pests had been found. More than 90 percent of the fruit export was destined for China.

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party has criticized Beijing for using trade as a way to apply political pressure on Taiwan.