China banned pork imports from Germany on the eve of critical trade and investment talks, in a move analysts describe as a warning to Europe not to defy Beijing on a range of issues, reported the Financial Times.
China’s Ministry of Agriculture and General Administration of Customs said in a joint statement on Saturday that China would stop accepting pork and related products from Germany. It said the move was intended to “protect the animal husbandry industry and prevent the spread of the disease” after Europe’s largest economy reported its first case of African swine fever.
The disease is common across China and has decimated its pig population in recent years. The ban came just two days before Chinese president Xi Jinping is scheduled to discuss trade issues in a video meeting with Angela Merkel, German chancellor, as well as Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, presidents of the European Council and European Commission respectively, on Monday.
German pork exports to China totaled €835 million ($989 million) in the first half of this year, compared with €1.2 billion for all of last year, but analysts said the import ban has more to do with political considerations than concerns about China’s pig farming industry. “Beijing wants to give Berlin a warning shot that we have the ability to undermine you if you don’t listen to us,” said Zhuang Bo, an analyst at TS Lombard, a consultancy.