China’s durian demand is a godsend for Philippine trade, but for other Asian countries ‘durian diplomacy’ raises concerns

  • Chinese consumers are enjoying unprecedented access to the Southeast Asian delicacy known for its intense smell and unique taste, thanks to recent bilateral agreement
  • But the emergence of ‘durian diplomacy’ has some Asean countries turning up their nose at what they see as political manoeuvring that could eventually backfire

More than 900km southeast of Manila, Davao City is dubbed “Durian Capital of the Philippines”. With the volcanic soil of Mount Apo said to give the pungent “king of fruit” a unique flavour, the region accounts for almost 80 per cent of all durians grown in the country.

But now, even the local durian market in Davao is in short supply, as large amounts of the existing harvests have been reserved for China.

It all began with a new bilateral agreement signed between the two countries in early January, following the state visit of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr to Beijing, which opened China’s door to fresh Philippine durians for the first time.

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China, Philippines, diplomacy