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Tag Archives: Beijing
Original source: Daily Mail
China needs to act now on the country’s illegal ivory trade to stop elephants becoming extinct, according to one conservationist.
China accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s trade in elephant tusks, with many bound for the country intercepted by customs officials in Hong Kong
Joyce Poole, co-director of Elephant Voices, said the creatures had experienced their worst year in history, with more than 7 per cent killed for their tusks in only a year.
She called for China to tackle the country’s appetite for ivory to save the remaining 400,000 elephants from extinction, and said the species would be extinct within a decade if poaching continued at the current rate.
Nearly 40,000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year, Poole told the South China Morning Post.
‘It’s either China does something, or we lose the elephants. It’s that big,’ she said.
‘If we can’t even save the elephants – such an iconic keystone animal, important to the African habitat – then what hope do we have?’
Ivory is known as ‘white gold’ in China, she said, and is symbol of wealth and status.
A worldwide ban on ivory was imposed in 1989, with two sanctioned sales of stock to China and Japan in 1999 and 2007.
Hong Kong customs officials have seized at least 16 tonnes of ivory worth HK$87million (more than £7million) bound for China in the past five years – which would require the tusks of 1,800 elephants, the paper reported.
About 93 per cent of elephant carcasses have been found to have been killed by poachers, said Poole, who has researched elephants for 40 years.
One elephant would earn an African poacher the same as a typical annual salary, she told the newspaper.
‘I think many people don’t know that you can’t get the tusks [for ivory] without killing the elephants,’ Poole said.
‘[Beijing is] still in denial that they have any part to play. Ivory isn’t worth much to the [Chinese] economy, but losing the elephants will make a huge difference to African countries.’ – Daily Mail
This article can be found in the following link: http://africageographic.com/blog/elephants-face-extinction-if-beijing-does-not-ban-ivory-trade/
Yan Fei, Morning Post
Feb. 22, 2014
According to Beijing Morning Post, Liang, a staff from the Beijing Capital Airport Power& Energy Co., Ltd, taking advantage of possessing the pass of the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), has smuggled ivory into China, with an amount of more than 1 million RMB. It is reported that, Liang was accused of smuggling precious animal products, and sentenced to imprisonment of 10 years and 6 months. His partner was sentenced to prison for 11 years.
Liang was the staff of Beijing Capital Airport Power& Energy Co., Ltd. According to the investigation report from the court, Yang was incited by Liang to carry 31 pieces of ivory products with his suitcase on Sep. 29, 2012, departing from the Republic of Togo, and arrived at the BCIA on Sep.30, 2012, via several nations. Yang handed two laptop bags with ivory products in it, to Liang, who was arranged by Yang, at the men’s bathroom. Because of the pass that Liang had, he was able to escape from the monitoring of the customers, and trafficked in the illicit ivory products. On that day, both suspects were arrested on the spot. The total value of the smuggled ivory was estimated to be more than 1 million RMB.
Considering that Liang has confessed truthfully of his crime, the court gave him a lesser punishment, however both of them have been charged of smuggling precious animal products.
BY MALCOLM MOORE, LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH
FEBRUARY 11, 2014
With its sleek glass and wood exterior, the Tianya Antiques City is a temple to modern Chinese
craftsmanship. Inside, the traders sell their wares from boutique stalls more like museums than
markets – jade, emerald and coral.
But the real draw for visitors to the Beijing centre is also its most controversial: ivory.
As a high-level summit to combat wildlife trafficking and poaching opens in London Wednesday,
hosted by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, shifting Chinese attitudes toward
ivory will be one of the most important goals, given that it is the world’s most populous nation
with a strong appetite for elephant tusk.
It will not be easy, as Fu Junjun, who works at her father’s ivory shop in the 11-floor market,
testified. “The price of ivory keeps going up, and the government’s decision to destroy that ivory
stockpile actually helped us,” she said, referring to the recent crushing of about 5.5 tonnes by
Chinese authorities. “The smaller stores now find it harder to get a good supply, but bigger
stores like us have hardly felt any impact and it helped put the price up.”
Ivory is legal in China provided it comes from a government-registered dealer, and there
continues to be a significant demand – partly as an increasingly valuable commodity and partly
because, according to the principles of feng shui, ivory can “disperse misfortune and drive out
In 2008, the international community allowed four African countries – Namibia, Zimbabwe,
South Africa and Botswana – to sell their stockpiles of ivory to Japan and China for $15 million in
an attempt to control the slaughter of elephants.
All of the ivory available in China is technically supposed to have come from that auction, and
each carving carries its own certificate of provenance. But environmentalists warn that there is
rampant cheating in the system and that illegal ivory is easily laundered. A survey by IFAW in
2011 found that, of 158 shops and carving factories in Beijing, Shanghai, Fuzhou and Guang-
zhou, 101 were not licensed, or were selling smuggled ivory.
At Panjiayuan, Beijing’s biggest curio market, dealers said they had no elephant tusk on offer.
But when asked if they wanted to buy an unlicensed piece of ivory, several asked to take a look.
“I have bought cheap ivory online,” said Xu Song, a 25-year-old carver. “I cannot say whether
they were smuggled or not, but they are cheap, so I suppose so.
“Perhaps the biggest legacy of the decision to allow ivory auctions is that it has convinced the
Chinese that ivory is no longer a desperately endangered commodity. I do not think the supply
of ivory is a problem. We have not really thought about it.”
On the upside, the Chinese have discovered a new commodity that is now rivalling elephant
ivory in desirability: woolly mammoth ivory. Each summer, hundreds of tusks are dug up in
Siberia and sent south for carving.
Article at the following link:
Prosecutors in Xicheng district said on Tuesday that they have charged two people with illegally selling ivory. The suspects, named Liu and Ye, are accused of processing nearly 14 kilograms of ivory, valued at 600,000 yuan ($99,300), and selling it to the public. Since June 2010, the two had rented a room to process and sell artworks made of wood and ivory without a business license, said prosecutors.
The above article can be found in the following link: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2014-01/15/content_17237454.htm
Voice of Russia
The summit aims to bring together top-level government representatives from 50 countries and for the first time it is hoped one of China’s vice premiers will attend.
Prince William is expected to make a speech at the conference, which will be attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague. US Secretary of StateJohn Kerry will also be present, along with the leaders of several African countries.
Organisers hope that Chinese media icons Jackie Chan – the actor – and Yao Ming – the 7ft 6in former basketball star – will attend, to ensure the conference receives widespread coverage in China.
Andrew Leun, an independent expert on China, says:
“There’s an important role to be played by media icons like Jackie Chan .. the Chinese want to stand tall in the world not just because of the growth of the economy but because they embrace world values … nationalism and pride will play a big role in stamping out the ivory trade.”
China drives ivory trade
The explosive growth of China’s emerging middle class has brought with it sweeping economic change and social transformation – and a rapacious appetite for ivory.
China is responsible for over 70 percent of global demand for illegal ivory, and the Chinese are also the world’s leading consumers of tiger bone soup and rhino horn cures.
Without the demand from China, conservationists say the illegal ivory trade would all but dry up.
The Chinese have coveted ivory for centuries. Hand-carved ivory objects are proudly displayed in Chinese homes to symbolise wealth and status.
But now, unprecedented numbers are able to afford the precious material.
China’s economic boom has created a vast upper-middle class, and this new consumer group has caused the price of ivory to triple on the streets of Beijing.
Slaughter in Africa
Tens of thousands of African elephants are now being slaughtered to meet the demand. Last year, poaching in Africa was at its highest level since an international ban on ivory was applied in 1989.
Conservationists say the frenzy of killing now threatens the future survival of elephants.
Though much of the ivory traded is illegal, loopholes in trade regulations allow the sale of ivory in some circumstances. Countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe – where elephant populations are stable – are allowed to sell trophy licences that allow hunters to bring ivory across borders. Ivory obtained before the international ban is also legal – which provides an effective smokescreen for criminal trade.
Will Travers of Born Free says:
“China is the biggest market because in 2008 the international community decided it was acceptable to sell some stockpiled ivory to China and Japan to satisfy demand … what it did was it stimulated demand…”
But global leaders are not motivated by concern for elephants and rhinos alone. They smell danger.
Links with armed groups
The underground ivory trade is increasingly militarised. Militia groups sell ivory, and use this cash to buy weapons.
Organized crime syndicates link up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa all the way to China.
Links have been established with Africa’s most notorious armed groups, al-Shabaab –the al-Qaeda cell group involved in the recent Westgate Mall siege in Nairobi – and central Africa’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
Last week, the UN Security Council made moves to impose international sanctions and freeze the assets of illegal wildlife traffickers.
We spoke to Charlie Mayhew, CEO of conservation group Tusk Trust, about the security concerns.
The London conference will focus on four objectives: strengthening law enforcement; reducing demand; international collaboration; and helping Africa communities to find sources of income linked to protecting the animals rather than killing them. Higher penalties for poaching and smuggling will be a key topic of discussion.
All 38 African countries with elephants have agreed that their highest priority is to protect their elephants.
Conservationists hope the conference will herald an era when concern for animal welfare – rather than expensive trinkets – will be the hottest status symbol in China.
Prosecutors in Beijing’s Xicheng district said on Tuesday that they have charged two people suspected of illegally selling ivory.
The two suspects, surnamed Liu and Ye, allegedly processed nearly 14 kilograms of ivory, valued at about 600,000 yuan ($99,300), and sold it to the public, the prosecutors said.
Since June 2010, the two had rented a room to process and sell artworks made of wood and ivory without any business license, according to the prosecuting authority.
At first, the pair only processed wood artworks but, from April 2013, they started making products of ivory because they realized the profits were much higher than for wood artworks, the prosecutors said.
“I know it is illegal to make ivory products, but what I didn’t think the fees for the artistry are illegal,” Liu told the prosecutors after arrest.
Zhang Lei, one of the district’s prosecutors, said Asian and African elephants in the wild face extinction and must be protected.
As per a judicial interpretation issued by the top court, people who illegally buy, transport or sell wild animals that are endangered species, or products from those animals, must be punished, Zhang added.
December 20, 2013
A newspaper story about the impact of the ivory trade has gone viral in China, raising awareness among millions of Chinese, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The story, published November 15 in Southern Weekly has been shared widely across Chinese web sites and social media, according to the conservation group.
“The total views of the original Southern Weekly Tweets and Retweets on Weibo (China’s Twitter/Facebook hybrid) exceeded 10 million. Most of these “netizens,” or members of the Chinese online public, were from Tier 1 Chinese cities (Beijing, Chongqing, Guangdong), the most significant consumers of ivory,” said WCS in a statement.
“The article was reposted on 24 online discussion forums or Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) including Mop and Tianya, two of the most popular in China. Thousands of comments were generated on the Tianya BBS forum alone. Overall over 5,000 comments on the article were posted on Weibo, BBS fora, and other websites.”
The story received wide play outside environmental news, being picked up on finance sites, according to WCS.
“This represents an important shift for the topic of ivory from the specialist environmental pages to the mainstream debate,” said the group.
The article, titled “The Blood Ivory: Behind the Largest Ivory Smuggling Cases in China”, identified Chinese consumption as the main driver of elephant poaching. It noted links between the ivory trade and terror and rebel groups in Africa.
The ivory trade has exploded in recent years due to surging demand from middle class consumers in China. Conservationists estimate that up to 35,000 elephants may have been killed in 2012 alone.
The carnage has spurred several NGO’s, including WCS, to step up campaigns targeting both the supply and demand sides of the trade. In September, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) gave these efforts a boost when it launched a massive push to catalyze support for stopping “blood ivory”.
But reaching Chinese buyers has remained a challenge. Therefore WCS welcomed the news that elephant ivory is now garnering attention in China.
“To have the influential mainstream media make the link between the elephant crisis and the Chinese demand for ivory is hugely significant,” Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO, said in a statement.
“In China, it’s not just what is said but who says it,” added Joe Walston, Executive Director of WCS’s Asia Program. “To have the Southern Weekly give its front page to an article highlighting China’s role in the ivory trade is monumental. This is no longer a fringe topic.”
On the China in Africa Podcast, Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden and Huang Hongxiang gloomily discuss prospects for decisive action from Beijing to stop the Chinese-fueled slaughter of elephants for ivory. The problem, Huang suggests, is that the issue has yet to gain momentum among the public.
At The Washington Post, though, Simon Denyer highlights a collapse in demand for shark fins following concerted campaigning and a government crackdown on ostentatious official banquets. This success may yet offer hope for Africa’s elephants.
“People said it was impossible to change China, but the evidence we are now getting says consumption of shark fin soup in China is down by 50 to 70 percent in the last two years,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that has promoted awareness about the shark trade. The drop is also reflected in government and industry statistics.
“It is a myth that people in Asia don’t care about wildlife,” Knights said. “Consumption is based on ignorance rather than malice. ”
[…] Buoyed by the results of the shark fin campaign, conservationists are now turning their attention to the trade in ivory and rhino horn. Some 25,000 elephants were poached last year, and 668 rhinos killed in South Africa alone, with China the largest market for ivory, and the second largest for rhino horn behind Vietnam.
[… A]ttitudes can change, and the Chinese government is not intransigent. A major investor in Africa, it does not want to be seen as the reason for widespread insecurity caused by poaching. In September, it started sending text messages to every Chinese cellphone user who touched down in Kenya, warning them to “not carry illegal ivory, rhino horn or any other wildlife.“