Taiwan hijacks 20,000 bottles of rum destined for China
Taiwan is sharing tips with the public on how to drink and cook with rum after it bought 20,000 bottles of Lithuanian rum bound for China.
State-run media said Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (TTL) purchased the rum after learning that it could be blocked from entering China.
It comes after Lithuania established a de facto embassy in Taiwan, a potential sign of growing ties between them.
China downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania days after.
The Lithuanian de facto embassy bears the name Taiwan rather than “Chinese Taipei”, the name used by many foreign nations to avoid offending China.
While Taiwan is a self-governed democratic state, Beijing sees it as part of its territory. It has stepped up pressure in the past year to isolate the island from its international allies.
The state-owned TTL said it had been notified by Taiwan’s Finance Minister and head of the Taiwanese Representative Office of Lithuania Eric Huang that a batch of rum could be potentially blocked from going into China, according to a report by state-run news outlet CNA.
TTL said it had reason to believe the rum would be blocked as past shipments of beer into China had been blocked, added the report.
Taiwan’s National Development Council later said in a post on Facebook that the rum “could not pass through Chinese customs”.
It also urged locals to buy rum at the end of January, when the shipment would be on sale and shared recipes for a Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail, and rum- infused French toast, steak and hot chocolate.
The post from the National Development Council also spoke about its friendly relations with Lithuania. The two states signed a memorandum of co-operation with each other and have also hosted bilateral trade delegations.
China has denied imposing any trade blockages on Lithuania – which would breach global trading rules – but the European Union says it has verified reports from its member state of trade being held up at Chinese customs.
The European Commission has raised protests on behalf of Lithuania, and is pursuing the claim with the World Trade Organization.
The rum blockage is just the latest example reported to be suffered by Lithuanian businesses and traders – although China counts for just 1% of Lithuania’s exports.
Beijing has a history of imposing unofficial trade sanctions on nations which whom it has a political dispute. Currently it also has boycotts of about a dozen Australian goods, including beef, wine and barley.