Vietnamese custom authorities have demanded a Chinese exporter stop sending apples packaged in boxes which feature messages such as “Diaoyu Islands are Chinese” printed on them.

According to a press release on the Vietnamese government website, it is against the law to put political messages on fruit boxes. Measuring 20 x 15 x 25 cm, the apple boxes came with the Chinese flag printed on one side and messages stating the Diaoyu Islands are Chinese in Chinese and English on the other side. They were found in Quang Ninh Province.

china political apple
Vietnamese custom officials inspecting the apples with “political packaging.” Photo: Vietnamese customs.

The Chinese side “is taking advantage of commercial activities” for “propaganda related to territorial sovereignty disputes with other countries,” the press release read.

Such behaviours violate Vietnamese and international law and “affects foreign relations of Vietnam and the countries concerned,” the government said.

The Diaoyu Islands, located in the East China Sea, are claimed by China, Japan and Taiwan. In Japan, the isles are known as the Senkakus.

Vietnamese authorities have asked the importer to cancel future orders of apples with the same packaging.

The news was widely reported in Vietnam and picked up by Japanese media.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.