China halted some trade with Taiwan in retaliation to the high-profile visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island.

On Monday, China reportedly banned food imports from more than 100 of Taiwan’s suppliers.    

Bloomberg says China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade rising 26% on year to US$328.3 billion last year.  According to Chinese customs data, Taiwan held a sizable surplus against China, with exports from the island exceeding imports by US$172 billion. 

Experts say while Beijing could leverage that advantage by sanctioning exporters, China also relies on Taiwan for semiconductor supplies.

Two-way trade reportedly totaled US$165 billion in the first half of this year, with Taiwan’s surplus with China at US$79.8 billion.

Analysts note that more trade disruptions can be expected between China and Taiwan while tensions remain high. 

CGTN, citing the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, says shortly after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan on Tuesday, August 2, the Chinese government on Wednesday, August 3, announced that it was halting exports of natural sand to Taiwan. 

Media reports say Taiwan imported 5.67 million metric tons of sand and gravel in 2020, with natural sand constituting about 8% of total.  More than 90% of Taiwan’s imported sand and gravel is from China, due to much higher transportation costs from other countries. 

Bloomberg notes that the sand export ban cuts off Taiwan’s main source of the construction material.  With grains about 5 millimeters wide or less, natural sand is typically used to produce things like concrete and asphalt.

China previously halted natural sand exports to Taiwan in March 2007, citing environmental concerns, and lifted the ban about one year later.  Taiwan activated a contingency plan at the time, including importing materials from the Philippines and using local river sand to close the gap.