HANOI, Vietnam – Jack Nguyen had sold 20 of his 30 containers of imported American grapes when a fresh round of rumors 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.
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 border war in 1979 and renewed assertiveness by China in pushing territorial claims in the South China Sea mean tales of Chinese perfidy find fertile soil.