Chinese Offer to Eat Denmark’s Oyster Problem to Extinction

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BEIJING — Is an alien mollusk species choking your shoreline? Don’t despair. China’s ravenous, inventive internet users have an answer to unwelcome shellfish.

They’re ready to devour them.

The Danish Embassy in Beijing has been absorbing that lesson since it shared a report online this week about a plague of Pacific oysters, a stubborn, gray intruder that has spread explosively along parts of the Scandinavian coast.

“Fresh oysters are cramming the shore, but Danes aren’t the least bit happy,” the embassy explained on Monday in a message on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media service like Twitter. “Visit the Danish coast to eat fresh oysters, is it a date?” it added, tongue in cheek.

The reaction was more than the embassy anticipated. By Friday the message had attracted around 15,000 quips and comments, and the Pacific oyster invasion was reported by many Chinese newspapers and news websites.

“We expected a much more mild reaction,” the public diplomacy and media section of the Danish Embassy said in emailed answers to questions. Instead, it said, the embassy’s online accounts were “were flooded by recipes from Chinese netizens.”

Most of the advice offered by commenters boiled down to a simple solution: Send armies of Chinese tourists to scarf down the oysters. But that advice often came with a witty twist.

“Free up visas and introduce oyster-eater visas, 10 years unlimited re-entry,” said one of the initial suggestions. “I’d bet that these oysters would be exterminated in about five years.”

“I solemnly swear to join the Danish Oyster-Resistance Volunteer Army,” said another. “I will dedicate my tongue and taste buds to Sino-Danish friendship until these oyster invaders are vanquished.”

Whoever runs the Danish Embassy’s Weibo account took the suggestions in good stride. Denmark could also export the oysters to China, the account said.

“Thank you to the righteous advance team of oyster eaters,” it said in another message. “The beaches of Denmark await you.”

The invasion of the Pacific oysters is an environmental threat in Scandinavia, where they have spread out from oyster farms, overwhelming mussels and native shellfish and smothering shores.

By the end of the week, some of the hubbub in China about the Danish oysters had also turned serious.

News reports said that China cultivated 80 percent of the world’s farmed oysters, most of them the pesky Pacific oyster, so Denmark’s would not be necessary. Other reports pointed out that the eat-them-to-extinction idea had been proposed before.

But the Danish Embassy said that it had received some sincere proposals from Chinese companies to import the oysters. It also offered some advice for visitors inspired by the oyster frenzy.

“Due to the clean water environment in Denmark, most of the oysters there are therefore safe to eat, but we would suggest consulting locals before guzzling them,” the public diplomacy and media section said by email. “For us, they are appetizing simply with some lemon and white wine, but for many Chinese, they would not want to eat the oysters without grilling them with mashed garlic and chili sauce.”