WildAid welcomes recent efforts made the General Administration of China Customs (GACC) to combat the illegal wildlife trade. In an April 25th press statement, the GACC outlined recent seizures as well as priorities within interagency collaboration, international and regional cooperation, and partnerships with NGOs.
“By both dismantling international criminal syndicates and increasing awareness about the poaching crisis, China is showing its commitment to protecting threatened species,” said WildAid China Representative, Steve Blake. “We deeply appreciate our partnership with China as it means we can help deliver effective and creative messages about the illegal wildlife trade, and we will continue to support their efforts to persuade people not to import ivory.”
Briefing on Cracking Down On Wildlife Trafficking by China Customs
April 25, 2019
General Administration of China Customs
Dear representatives from International organizations and NGOs,
President Xi Jinping has made important instructions to combat illicit wildlife trade particularly ivory trafficking, showing the strong political will of China’s top management to protect wildlife and promote ecological civilization. The fulfillment of our responsibility has won wide acclaim from the international community. Following President Xi’s instructions and enforcing relevant laws, China Customs, as the guardian of border, strengthens its control over wildlife and its enforcement against trafficking of endangered species and their products with zero tolerance to fulfill our mission of protecting environmental security. Our efforts have resulted in notable achievements.
Firstly, Cracking down on smuggling crimes.China Customs has been fighting against the trafficking of endangered species to destroy smuggling syndicates and its chains. This year, the anti-smuggling bureau of China Customs has filed investigations on 182 cases of smuggling of endangered species and their products, 53 of which involved ivory. 27 criminal syndicates were caught, 171 suspects arrested and 500.5 tons of endangered species products impounded, 8.48 tons of which are ivory and its products. On March 30, we have seized 7.48 tons of ivory on the spot in a major case, a record high in recent years and have destroyed an international criminal syndicate specializing in ivory smuggling. In addition, we have eradicated some online platforms trafficking endangered species.
Secondly, Strengthening inter-agency collaboration. China Customs has been promoting collaboration with local governments and other departments to control the smuggling of endangered species especially ivory so as to fight the smuggling chain of purchasing, transporting, storing and selling. China Customs has been working together with the State Post Bureau to strengthen inspection and requirements of nominal consignment on post and courier service, to crack down trafficking of endangered species. We have also been strengthening coordination with the Joint Inter-ministerial Office on Combating Illegal Trade in Wildlife to form a joint strike force. China Customs has been strengthening inspection and control in key markets, processing sites, transit distribution centers and border trade points, in efforts to destroy illegal production and sale.
Thirdly, Cooperating with international and regional law enforcement agencies. China Customs has been working with WCO and Interpol in combating the smuggling of endangered species. In the operation of “Presedio” launched by WCO and Interpol from February 4 to March 3 this year, China Customs worked together with law enforcement agencies from 26 countries and regions in Africa and Asia, seized 3791.6 kg of ivory, 895.64 kg of pangolin, 43.07 kg of rhinoceros horn and 29286 kg of endangered timber. China Customs will be an active contributor in the Operation Thunderball against the wildlife trafficking initiated by WCO and Interpol.
China Customs has been strengthening cooperation with law enforcement agencies from source, transit and destination areas of wildlife. China Customs emphasizes the principle of “shared responsibility”, and hopes that the law enforcement agencies in countries and regions of source, transit and destination fulfill their responsibilities to combat wildlife trafficking. China Customs has helped Hong Kong SAR Customs seize 2.07 tons of smuggled ivory and 8.268 tons of pangolin scales jointly with and other customs authorities. Over the past one year and a half, three Chinese suspects of wildlife trafficking were repatriated to China from Africa. The achievements of China Customs have been recognized by the international community. CITES Secretariat has spoken highly of our work and WCO also highlighted it in its publication. In 2018, China Customs has received awards from the UNEP and the China Wildlife Conservation Association. Last September, WWF issued a report stating that China’s Ivory Trade Ban had achieved remarkable results. On 22nd April, 2019, Joyce Msuya, the Assistant Secretary General of UN and the Acting Executive Head of UNEP, visited China Customs and spoke highly of the leadership by China Customs in the combating against wildlife trafficking.
Fourthly, strengthening cooperation with NGOs. Positive results have been achieved in cooperation with NGOs. At the beginning of this year, we worked together with WWF and Wildaid, to produce posters and videos publicizing prohibition on the smuggling of endangered species such as ivory and their products. They were broadcast on the internet and at international airports and railway stations, to advocate people not to purchase or use products of endangered species. Last month, in cooperation with WWF, we had an exchange activity with customs from key countries and regions in Asia and Africa, which has enhanced customs law enforcement cooperation capabilities in source, transit and destination areas. In May, China Customs will work together with IFAW to launch law enforcement exchange activity among China Customs, Hong Kong SAR Customs and Vietnam Customs. After the press conference on combating the smuggling of endangered species held by GACC on 15th of this month, many NGOs present today published news on official websites and social media, giving positive comments on our work and raising the awareness of the public to recognize the jeopardy of wildlife trafficking.
Our suggestions for future cooperation with NGOs are: First, please continue to help publicize China Customs’ law enforcement measures against the wildlife trafficking on international platforms, introducing the positive outcomes of China Customs’ efforts in strictly implementing the Ivory Trade Ban Policy, and call on law enforcement agencies from the source, transit and destination areas to shoulder shared responsibility of wildlife protection. Second, please continue to support China Customs to raise public awareness of wildlife protection to keep them away from wildlife trafficking. Third, please continue to maximize your strength in sharing intelligence and information wildlife trafficking with us, particularly the operational intelligence and analysis reports. Fourth, please continue to support the exchanges between China Customs and other customs agencies, to enhance capabilities of law enforcement agencies in countries and regions of source, transit and destination, in order to jointly dismantle transnational criminal organizations.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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