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Ivory trade no longer elephant in corner

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-17 08:06

A white female rhino. [Photo/Agencies]

AT A NEWS CONFERENCE ON MONDAY, the General Administration of Customs said that it had confiscated 7.48 tons of ivory and smashed a smuggling chain. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

The case is the biggest of its kind in recent years. According to official data, customs nationwide have solved 53 ivory cases so far this year, involving 27 smuggling groups and 171 suspects. The total weight of ivory and ivory products confiscated amounts to 8.48 tons.

Besides the ivory cases, customs nationwide have also solved 1,870 cases involving endangered species and confiscated 103.4 tons of endangered species and their products.

These show China's "zero-tolerance" approach toward the ivory trade and the trade in endangered species.

The international society has spoken highly of China's efforts to combat the ivory trade. In September 2018, World Wide Fund for Nature said that China's ban on ivory has proved effective, while the United Nations Environment Programme bestowed upon China a prize that year.

Yet international recognition is not the reason for China's ban. Actually, China has banned the ivory trade because it hopes to protect wildlife and the environment, not to win any praise.

When a Tanzanian court sentenced Yang Fenglan, a Chinese merchant charged with the illegal operation of an ivory trade chain in February, the Foreign Ministry of China responded that China never gives protection to citizens who commit crimes.

More importantly, on China's social networks, netizens expressed little support or sympathy for Yang, which shows that there is already a consensus among Chinese residents that the ban on the trade in ivory is right.

Rather than relying on opportunistic seizures at borders, the Chinese authorities have been conducting more intelligence-based investigations to curb the illegal trade in ivory and wildlife. The seizures so far this year show that this approach is working.

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