Taiwanese fish farmers hit hard by China trade ban

STORY: Plucking fish one by one from the sea, Sheng-You Chen and his team of fishermen reel in the day's catch at their farm in Taiwan's Pingtung County.

But where these piles and piles of large grouper will end up is now unclear.

Mainland China, once Chen's biggest buyer, is putting a chokehold on Taiwanese exports.

“Our job is to farm fish. We only hope that once the fish grow bigger, we will be able to sell them. But now, because of the political issues and the lack of a communication channel between our (Taiwan) government and China, the Chinese government is blocking our economy."

In June, Beijing suspended purchases of Taiwanese grouper fish, Chen's main product, after repeatedly detecting banned chemicals.

Since then, things have only gotten worse for the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.

Just a day after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a high-profile visit to the island, Beijing extended its Taiwanese seafood ban in what many viewed as an act of retaliation, saying it had found traces of coronavirus on some of the packaging.

“When U.S. House speaker (Nancy) Pelosi came to Taiwan, I personally don’t think it helped Taiwan whatsoever. It created some economic loss for the Taiwanese people instead. I don’t know why she came.”

Pelosi has defended her visit, saying it wasn't intended to change the political status quo and that the U.S. would not leave Taiwan isolated.

China described Pelosi's visit as a provocation that undermines its sovereignty and territorial integrity, while Taiwan rejects China's sovereignty claims and says only its own people can decide their future.

But for ordinary fishermen like Rui-Long Zhang, none of that matters when it comes to making a living.

“We only hope there won't be armed conflict between both sides (China and Taiwan), please be considerate. Politics is politics, business is business. People need to live. We don’t understand too much about politics, but we only need a harmonious and peaceful relationship between China and Taiwan and also to coexist. ”