China seriously fights against illegal ivory trade

2008-07-17 13:02:58 GMT       2008-07-17 21:02:58 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

BEIJING, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government is seriously fighting the illegal ivory trade, the Foreign Ministry said here Thursday when asked to comment on an NGO report critical of China.

The report is "unfair" and twists facts, said spokesman Liu Jianchao.

The standing committee overseeing the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) decided at a meeting Tuesday in Geneva to give right to China to import African elephant ivory under strict conditions.

Members of the committee voted by a majority that China qualified for the import because it has dramatically improved its enforcement of ivory rules.

Liu said the Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of wild animals including elephants and has promulgated a series of laws and regulations to severely crack down upon illegal activities of trafficking and sales of wild animals and related products.

It has conducted effective management over the processing and sales of ivory carvings, added Liu, hoping that organizations concerned will take into account of China's efforts and achievements in this regard.

Ivory trade was banned globally in 1989, but controlled trade was approved at a CITES meeting in 2002 and then modified to include new conditions at a meeting in 2007.

At the 2007 meeting, CITES also authorized four southern African countries - Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe -to make a one-off sale of 108 tons of registered ivory stocks.

"China was accepted as a trading partner to import ivory from the four authorized countries in southern Africa," said Juan Carlos Vasquez, spokesman of CITES, after Tuesday's vote.

Previously Japan was the only country that had won approval from CITES to import ivory from Africa.

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