China vows to cooperate in global fight against ivory smuggling: FM
Updated: 2013-11-06 00:13
Customs officials in Xiamen, Fujian province, make an inventory of smuggled ivory on Monday. Details of two smuggling cases, involving nearly 12 metric tons of ivory worth 603 million yuan ($98.8 million), were disclosed on Monday and became the largest ivory smuggling cases in China. Lei Guohua / for China Daily
China firmly opposes ivory smuggling and will continue to work with the international community to protect wildlife, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
Spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at the ministry's daily news briefing in response to a question about three Chinese citizens apprehended in Tanzania who had a considerable amount of ivory in their residence.
China has paid close attention to the case, Hong said. The Chinese ambassador in Tanzania immediately checked the information and made a statement strongly condemning poaching and ivory smuggling and promising cooperation in fighting the crimes, Hong said.
He noted that the embassy called on Chinese tourists to abide by the law and stay away from ivory smuggling.
Media reports said 706 elephant tusks, weighing 1,800 kg, were seized on Saturday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from the house of three Chinese garlic traders. On Monday, the three traders were named suspects.
Spokesman Hong said the Chinese government firmly opposes elephant poaching and ivory smuggling and has taken measures including lawmaking, integrated law enforcement and international cooperation, which have curbed the ivory trade, Hong said.
China will continue to work with the international community in this regard, he said.
The international trade in ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after the sharp shrink in the African elephant population in the 30 years before 1980s.
But as elephant tusks and other body parts are often used in Asia and the Middle East for ornaments, as talismans, and for use in religion, there have been markets for smuggled ivory.
Xiamen custom said on Monday that it caught two ivory smuggling gangs in the past two years, and seized 11.88 metric tons of elephant tusks and ivory products totaling 603 million yuan ($98.8 million).
Agence France-Presse also reported that a Chinese man was arrested in October at Zimbabwe's main airport trying to smuggle ivory out of the country.
The report quoted Zimbabwe's wildlife authorities saying that the 34-year-old man was trying to board a flight to Malaysia carrying 17 raw pieces of ivory and several of worked ivory, which included bangles, chopsticks and beads weighing 113.9 kg, worth roughly $28,250.
Xinhua — China Daily