Tag Archives: China

China bemoans its people’s behavior in Africa—including undergarment ivory smuggling (Tanzania)

By Lily Kuo, Quartz
July 14, 2014
China is a major economic presence in Africa, injecting billions of dollars in trade and economic assistance to build out the continent’s infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean that Chinese companies are always on their best behavior. According to Lu Youqing, China’s ambassador to Tanzania, Chinese businesses are constantly causing problems as they fight over contracts and try to bribe local official.
“Our people just cannot shake their bad habits,” Lu said, in an interview (link in Chinese) with the Chinese paper Southern Metropolis News yesterday. “Tanzania hosts ambassadors from about 70 countries, but none of them needs to constantly worry like us about consular protection issues,” Lu added.
China’s growing investment and business ties with African countries has long been a subject of criticism among observers within and outside of Africa. Recently, Chinese leaders have also taken to admitting to problems while describing them as just “growing pains” in Sino-African relations. But rarely have officials been as frank as Lu, especially regarding one of China’s oldest African allies and top foreign investment destinations.
Lu complained about Chinese nationals attempting to smuggle ivory out of Tanzania, one of the world’s main ports for smuggling the banned animal product—hiding the illegal commodity under the hoods of their cars or even inside their undergarments. China is the world’s top destination (pdf, p. 30) for illicit ivory, according to the United Nations, and the thousands of Chinese nationals working in Tanzania have only exacerbated the illegal trade.
These problems don’t appear to have impacted ties too much. After Chinese firms plowed $2.5 billion into Tanzania last year, China has become Tanzania’s largest foreign investor, and Tanzania is currently pushing for ways to attract more Chinese tourists.

Thailand faces trade ban over ivory failings

By Jonathan FowlerJuly 11, 2014 3:03 PM

Thailand faces an international wildlife trade ban unless it reins in its ivory sector, which is a magnet for traffickers, global regulator CITES said on Friday.

“There have been years without any real action on the ground when it comes to controlling the illegal ivory market,” said Oeystein Stoerkersen, chairman of CITES’s governing body.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has set Thailand an August 2015 deadline to fall into line or risk wide-ranging sanctions.

Bangkok is under additional pressure to report back by January on steps to bolster recent laws on registering ivory importers, traders and legal stockpiles, that CITES claims are insufficient.

“Without that, Thailand will face a ban, and a suspension of all trade no matter what commodity it is, of the 35,000 species listed with CITES,” he told reporters.

A ban would prevent the country trading anything appearing on that list with another country, including orchids and exotic wood, which are significant export products for Thailand.

“I think that is a strong signal,” said Stoerkersen, adding that Thai diplomats at the talks had acknowledged that their country needed to do more.

But environmental campaigner WWF said the body should have hit Thailand harder, given that Bangkok pledged last year to smash the illegal trade but the quantities of ivory on sale rose sharply.

“A suspension of trade in all CITES goods from Thailand would have been justified,” said WWF analyst Colman O’Criodain.

Current Thai law allows ivory from domesticated Thai elephants to be sold, making it simple to launder poached African ivory, WWF said.

“Thailand’s market is fuelling the illegal assault on African elephants,” said O’Criodain.

The decision on Thailand came as delegates wrapped up a week-long CITES conference on trade in endangered species.

Earlier this week, CITES chief John Scanlon told AFP that elephants would be wiped out in some parts of Africa unless more countries got involved in efforts to prevent poaching and smuggling.

Over the past three years, more than 60,000 African elephants have been killed, far outstripping their birth rate.

Crime syndicates and militias in Africa have become increasingly involved in the multi-billion-dollar illicit trade, taking advantage of Asian demand for ivory to use in decorations and traditional medicines.

- ‘Next generation will not forgive us’ -

Stoerkersen said Thailand had become a “sink” for African ivory, sucking in imports bought by foreigners for export to other Asian countries.

“It’s more or less an unregulated market,” he said.

Along with China, Thailand is part of the “Gang of Eight” countries that have faced scrutiny over the ivory trade, but it is now seen as the key offender.

Speaking at the conference in Geneva, William Kiprono, who leads Kenya’s Wildlife Service, said his country is cracking down hard on poachers and illegal ivory traders.

He said that the country is currently recruiting hundreds more wildlife rangers, but said more action was also needed from consumers.

“In some places, they think that ivory just falls out of an animal just like feathers,” he said.

“We need to work together. If we don’t act, we are going to lose our wildlife, as Kenya, as Africa and the globe. And the next generation will not forgive us,” he said.

During the conference, CITES also banned trade in the emperor scorpion from Ghana due to unsustainable harvesting, and raised concerns about the illegal trade in cheetahs and snakes, as well as illegal logging.

This article can be found in the following link: http://news.yahoo.com/thailand-faces-trade-ban-over-ivory-failings-171518386.html;_ylt=AwrTWfyyQsNTwAkAhQjQtDMD

 

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Rhino and Ivory Smuggling Conspiracy

Enews Park Forest

24 Jun 2014

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—June 24, 2014. Ning Qiu, a resident of Frisco, Texas, and an appraiser of Asian art, pleaded guilty today in federal court to participating in an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which rhinoceros horns and objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth nearly $1 million were smuggled from the United States to China.

The guilty plea was announced by Sam Hirsch, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, John Malcolm Bales, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, and Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Qiu, 43, who has worked as an Asian antique appraiser for seven years, pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Don D. Bush in Plano, Texas, to a one count information charging him with conspiracy to smuggle and violate the Lacey Act.

Qiu was identified as part of “Operation Crash” – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

According to documents filed in federal court, Qiu admitted to acting as one of the three antique dealers in the United States paid by Zhifei Li, the admitted “boss” of the conspiracy, to help obtain wildlife items and smuggle them to Li via Hong Kong. Li was sentenced on May 27, 2014, in federal district court in Newark, New Jersey, to serve 70 months in prison for his leadership role in the smuggling conspiracy. Li arranged financing, negotiated the price and paid for rhino horn and elephant ivory. He also gave instructions on how to smuggle the items out of the United States and obtained the assistance of additional collaborators in Hong Kong to receive the smuggled goods and then smuggle them to him in mainland China.

“This is yet another step toward dismantling a sophisticated and global network of criminals whose greed is driving endangered animals to extinction,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Hirsch. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those involved in the illicit trade of the world’s wildlife and will work with our international partners to battle the poaching, corruption, and transnational crime that goes along with it.”

“I am pleased that the Eastern District of Texas could be a part of the ‘Operation Crash’ investigation as well as the guilty plea today, and I congratulate the investigative team for a job well done,” said U.S. Attorney Bales. “The criminal activity undertaken by the defendant in this case is a stark reminder that this matter is not about serving Asian cultural and medicinal practices; it’s about greed, organized crime and the depletion of a species that – without our focused efforts to fight this trade – may not be around for our children to see.”

“This guilty plea by another participant in one of the largest criminal trafficking rings we’ve ever investigated – as well as the unprecedented jail time given to the rings’ leader last month – serves notice to other poachers and smugglers that we are clamping down hard on those who break international wildlife laws,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Ashe. “Working with the Department of Justice and other federal and international law enforcement agencies, we will continue to relentlessly pursue criminals whose greed and indifference to life are fueling the continued slaughter of rhinos and other vulnerable species in the wild.”

The rhinoceros is an herbivorous species of prehistoric origin and one of the largest remaining mega-fauna on earth. They have no known predators other than humans. All species of rhinoceros are protected under U.S. and international law. Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horn has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by more than 170 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets.

In pleading guilty, Qiu admitted that he worked at an auction house in Dallas as an appraiser of Asian artwork and antiques, specializing in carvings made from rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory. Qiu admitted to meeting Li in 2009 through his work at the auction house, and then entering into a conspiracy with Li whereby Qiu traveled throughout the U.S. to purchase raw and carved rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory for Li, often receiving specific instructions from Li on which items to buy and how much to pay. Upon purchasing the items, Li transferred funds directly into Qiu’s bank accounts in the U.S. and China. After acquiring the items for Li, Qiu arranged for them to be smuggled to a location in Hong Kong, which was provided by Li.

As part of his plea, Li admitted that he sold raw rhinoceros horns worth approximately $3 million – approximately $17,500 per pound – to factories in China where the horns are carved into fake antiques known as zuo jiu (which means “to make it as old” in Mandarin). In China, there is a centuries-old tradition of drinking from intricately carved “libation cups” made from rhinoceros horn. Owning or drinking from such a cup is believed by some to bring good health, and true antiques are highly prized by collectors. The escalating value of such items has resulted in an increased demand for rhinoceros horn that has helped fuel a thriving black market, including recently carved fake antiques. The leftover pieces from the carving process were sold for alleged “medicinal” purposes even though rhino horn is made of compressed keratin, the same material in human hair and nails and has no proven medical value.

Between 2009 and 2013, Qiu purchased and smuggled to Hong Kong at least five raw rhinoceros horns weighing at least 20 pounds. Qiu smuggled the raw rhino horns by first wrapping them in duct tape, hiding them in porcelain vases and falsely describing them on customs and shipping documents, including by labeling them as porcelain vases or handicrafts.

As part of the plea agreement, having considered Qiu’s cooperation and assistance in securing a conviction for Li, the government agrees to recommend to the sentencing judge that Qiu serve a 25-month prison sentence and pay a $150,000 fine. Sentencing will be before District Court Judge Richard Schell on a date to be determined by the court.

The investigation is continuing and is being handled by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Noble of the Eastern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Gary N. Donner of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Article link:

http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/law-and-order/federal-and-international/53938-texas-man-pleads-guilty-to-rhino-and-ivory-smuggling-conspiracy.html

Chinese man sentenced in New Jersey to nearly 6 years for smuggling rhino horns, ivory

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS  

May 27, 2014


NEWARK, New Jersey — A Chinese man who helped run an international smuggling ring that specialized in rhinoceros horns has been sentenced in New Jersey to nearly six years in federal prison.

Zhifei Li (zhee-feh lee) was given a sentence of five years and 10 months on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Newark.

The 30-year-old resident of Shandong, China, pleaded guilty last December to 11 counts, including smuggling and illegal wildlife trafficking.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Li paid three antiques dealers in the United States to help him smuggle the items to China. Thirty smuggled rhino horns plus other objects made from the horns and from elephant ivory were worth about $4.5 million.

All species of the rhinoceros are protected under U.S. and international law.

DALIAN CUSTOMS SEIZES 6 IVORY TUSKS AT DAYAO BAY

DALIAN CUSTOMS SEIZES 6 IVORY TUSKS AT DAYAO BAY

23/05/2014

Dalian Evening News

Dayao customs seized a large number of ivory and ivory products.

Yesterday, our reporters learned that a large ivory haul was confiscated by the Dalian Customs at the Dayao bay from separate luggage cases. The total amount of ivory that was seized is 6 ivory tusks and 64 pieces of ivory products. All had a total of 37.87 kg. The Dayao Customs Section chief said “This consignment was coming from Japan. It had been declared to be carrying clothes, furniture and other personal daily necessities. As the custom officials were going through them, the weight of the luggage made them curious, as they thought that the products must have been so many. This made them to conduct a thorough inspection. The results showed that the ivory had been dispersed in different layers in the wooden box, the ivory had been disguised in a more subtle way and some of the ivory had been hidden within framed paintings, thus increasing the confusion.”

This is the 2nd biggest consignment of smuggled ivory and ivory articles that the Dalian Custom officials have seized in the recent past. On the first occasion, the amount of smuggled ivory and ivory products that was seized had 126 kg. Investigations into this latest seizure are ongoing.

The original article in Mandarin can be found in the following link: http://dl.sina.com.cn/news/m/2014-05-23/074930136.html

Translated by: Chris Kiarie

Huge Haul of Smuggled Ivory Came From Kenya (Cambodia)

By Khy Sovuthy and Simon Henderson, The Cambodia Daily

May 23, 2014
The three-ton haul of illegal elephant ivory seized by port officials on May 9 originated in Kenya and was then shipped through Malaysia to Cambodia in two freight containers, the chief of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port’s customs and excise department said Thursday.

The General Department of Customs held a press conference Thursday to provide the first update since May 12 on the investigation into Cambodia’s biggest ever seizure of illegal ivory. But customs officials did not mention whether the investigation had identified any person or persons responsible for the smuggled ivory, and declined to respond to questions on the identity of the smugglers.

“After investigating this case we have discovered that the 3,008 kg of ivory was transported from Kenya in Africa,” Kin Ly, the head of the Sihanoukville port’s customs and excise department, told reporters.

He explained that port authorities were alerted about the containers by the regional intelligence liaison office of the Customs Enforcement Network, a global intelligence service monitoring shipping cargo.

The containers were supposed to be carrying beans from Malaysia, but a scan after their arrival at Sihanoukville revealed a cargo of more than 500 elephant tusks.

Most of the elephant tusks smuggled through Southeast Asia are bound for Vietnam and China, which have lucrative black markets for ivory, and Bun Chiv, deputy chief of the port’s customs office, said Thursday that the final destination of the Kenyan ivory was almost certainly not Cambodia.

“Cambodia was not the destination country for this ivory,” he said.

Neither he nor Mr. Ly would answer questions regarding the shipping company that consigned the containers, Olair Worldwide Logistics, which has two office listings in Phnom Penh and one in Sihanoukville.

The company is registered with the Ministry of Commerce as having three shareholders: Seang Sokhorn, Eang Chantha and Huy Soly.

Neither the company nor the shareholders could be reached Thursday.

Hong Kong Retailers Say They’ll Stop Selling Ivory

Chester Yung, Wall Street Journal China

May 14, 2014

The window for buying ivory in Hong Kong is narrowing.

Three local sellers of everything from dinner wear to curios said on Wednesday that ivory was no longer welcome on their shelves. Wing On Department Store said it would stop selling ivory products in July, while Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium said it stopped selling ivory on May 7 and Chinese Arts & Crafts ( HK) Ltd. said it stopped in March.

The notices — given in letters from the three companies released on Wednesday by conservation groups — came just a day before Hong Kong plans to burn a 30-tonstockpile of seized elephant ivory.  Their moves “send a clear message that the consumption of ivory is rapidly becoming taboo in Hong Kong society,” said Alex Hofford, director of Hong Kong for Elephants, a local lobby group.

Representatives of the three companies attended a press conference on Wednesday to announce their new stance but left before taking questions. A call to Wing On wasn’t immediately returned. A Yue Hwa representative declined to comment further. A spokesman of Chinese Arts & Crafts said the ivory the company once sold was legal.

Nearly 100 elephants are killed every day for ivory trinkets — bracelets, statuettes and other decorative items sold illegally around the world, according to Hong Kong for Elephants. Wildlife experts estimate the African elephant population stand around 420,000 to 650,000 and could be wiped out in 10 to 15 years if nothing is done to ease the problem.

The groups argue that the slaughter of African elephants continues largely to meet the rising demand for tusks from newly affluent Chinese consumers.  The price of ivory in China was 15,000 yuan ($2,478) per kilogram in 2011, more than triple its price in 2006, according to data from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Wildlife conservation groups Wednesday urged the Hong Kong government turn its post-burning attention to the city’s 117.1 metric ton legal stockpile of ivory still in circulation in Hong Kong. Hong Kong for Elephants also called upon the city’ s government to legislate a permanent ban on ivory sales.

The Hong Kong government’s burning plans followed China’s, which in Januarypulverized six tons of illegal tusks.

In a recent official visit in Africa, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also vowed to combat poaching and ivory smuggling.

“Changes are afoot for the better for elephants. This is an extraordinary encouraging moment for the global effort to reduce ivory demand in Asia,”  said Iris Ho of Humane Society International, an organization that works on animal protection.

Illegally selling ivory products, three people have been arrested by Police of Weihai, Shandong (China)

Weihai News Network
May 2014
April 20, Weihai News Network (Reporter Zhao Shuyi Correspondent Li Zhen) Sun bought ivory products from Lee and Qian who are businessmen from South China for profit. These three suspects have been arrested by Weihai City police. Prosecution has begun on 17th.
In late September last year, the Municipal Forest Public Security Bureau received reports of ivory products trafficking. Police immediately monitored Sun who was suspected of ivory products trafficking. Last October 15th, Sun was arrested in a foot massage salon in Gaoqu. in Sun’ s home, investigators seized ivory bracelets, ivory seals, ivory armlets and other products which later been identified as ivory by the wild animals plants criminal evidence identification Center of the State Forestry Administration Forest Public Security Bureau. In the afternoon of the same day, the other two suspects Lee and Qian were caught red-handed while they went to Sun’ s home to sell Sun ivory.
During interrogation, Sun admitted that he was driven by huge profits. Sun heard that ivory products can be sold for a great fortune, so Sun went to multiple areas to buy ivory products. During that time, Sun got in touch with Southern businessmen Lee and Qian. In last October, Lee and Qian brought a batch of ivory products and drove northward all the way to Weihai city of Shandong Province to bargain with Sun, only to get themselves arrested. According to statistics, currently seized ivory products that involved in the case is worth nearly ¥ 500,000.
April 17, an indictment charged defendant Sun with the crime of illegal acquisition of national rare and endangered wildlife products, defendant Lee with the crime of illegal sale of national rare and endangered wildlife products and defendant Qian with the crime of illegal transportation national rare and endangered wildlife products by Gaoqu People’s Procuratorate (in Shandong).

Zimbabwe: Chinese Businessman Arrested Over U.S.$23 Ivory

New Zimbabwe
1 May 2014

A CHINESE businessman spent two nights in police holding cells accused of possessing ivory bought without a licence at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).

Sum Bin, 51, of Hedong Chengling in China led a delegation from his country which attended the recent ZITF in Bulawayo.

After the trade showcase, the businessman and his delegation visited the Victoria Falls resort for a short holiday before returning home.

But the brief vacation turned into a nightmare when he was arrested Monday afternoon at Victoria Falls International Airport while boarding a plane for South Africa.

A Zimra sniffer dog is said to have alerted authorities who searched Sum Bin’s bag and found a cubic-shaped artefact made of ivory.

Sum Bin was held for two days as cops cracked their heads on a suitable charge.

The businessman eventually appeared before local magistrate, Sharon Rosemani, charged with smuggling Tuesday evening.

Sum told the court he bought the artefact for $10 and did not know it was made of ivory.

Zimra officials quoted the artefact, which weighed 0.092kg, at $23.

The magistrate said, as tourist, it was not proper to imprison him for an item worth $23.

He was fined $100 or an alternative 10 weeks in jail in default.

Article at the following link:

Elephants face extinction if Beijing does not ban ivory trade

Posted by Africa Geographic Editorial in News

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.

ivory

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/

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