HANOI - Jack Nguyen had sold 20 of his 30 containers of imported American grapes when a fresh round of rumours hit the internet and state-run media: Chinese fruit on sale in Vietnam might look good, but it contains deadly levels of preservatives and pesticides. Shoppers quickly stopped buying imported fruit altogether, believing it all tainted or falsely labeled. The remaining 10 containers rotted.
In this March 14, 2013 photo, a woman collects fruits to buy at a shop in a small market in Binh Thanh district of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. China has emerged as one of the world's leading exporters of fruit and vegetables, and is increasingly taking market share from US producers in Asian markets. It grows more apples than any other country. There are no figures on how much of the crop Vietnam imports. Chinese fruit is often cheaper than Vietnamese, and offers more variety. (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)
While fears about the safety of Chinese food products are often well founded, in Vietnam they are so tangled up with anti-Chinese sentiment it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. More than 1,000 years of occupation, a bloody border war in 1979 and renewed assertiveness by China in pushing territorial claims in the South China Sea mean that tales of Chinese perfidy find fertile soil in which to grow.
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