Recently, several Chinese nationals were found in possession of ivory bangles and necklaces during transit through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, as a result of which exaggeration and misinterpretation within some local NGOs arose.
The embassy would like to reiterate China’s position on ivory trade and some related issues.
1. China greatly values endangered species and has banned ivory trade since 1991. The Chinese government has adopted a series of laws and policies against the smuggling of and illegal trade in ivory. With the new policy loosening the restrictions on the ivory trade conditionally introduced by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in 1997, China has been targeted as a destination of ivory trade by many businessmen internationally.
Since May 2004, the Chinese government has requested all markets to earmark their ivory products with a unified icon to check the flow of the products and set up a database information system on all ivory products to ensure no illegal ivory enters the legal market.
At the same time, the Chinese government has engaged in a wide range of educational campaigns. The relevant authorities have hosted seminars to emphasise the importance of controlling the ivory trade, printed and dispatched posters on ivory trade control to be posted in the visa chambers of Chinese embassies in African countries as well as the embassies of African countries in China.
The Chinese government requests its citizens in Africa to abide strictly by the local laws and regulations, and not engage in any trade or transportation of ivory or its products.
The aforesaid efforts have won the recognition of representatives from many international organisations and Cites Parties who have visited to China to inspect China’s administration and law enforcement on Ivory trade.
2. Being fully aware of the Kenyan side’s concerns on wildlife protection, the Chinese embassy in Kenya has made every effort to educate the Chinese nationals not to engage in trade and transportation of ivory and its products. We have posters against ivory smuggling in our visa chamber. The embassy issues notices to the Chinese nationals in Kenya from time to time to remind them of the importance of this issue.
The ambassador raises this issue many times during functions held by the local Chinese communities. The embassy has direct communications with the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) on the protection of wildlife and how to contain the smuggling of ivory.
We are proud to say that our measures are effective. Up to now, the embassy has not been contacted by the local police or KWS on poaching or smuggling committed by Chinese nationals based in Kenya.
3. The embassy feels sorry that there were several Chinese nationals found in possession of ivory in JKIA. Actually, they all came from other African countries and were in Kenya in transit. They bought ivory products like bangles and necklaces from certain African countries as souvenirs that are available openly in the local market. Many of them are first-time tourists to Africa, and are not familiar with international practices on ivory. They are actually distinct from the smugglers we normally talk about. Anyway, they violated the Kenyan law out of ignorance and they have learnt their lesson.
4. However, the misdeeds by some individuals cannot be interpreted as activities of the whole nation. We cannot accept the groundless accusations by some NGOs that Chinese are behind the poachers. Actually, the embassy had approached the relevant NGO for further evidence or information in August 2008 when we first read the accusations, and the embassy is yet to get them until now.
The position of the Chinese government on the ivory trade is clear. We are open, sincere, and ready to work with relevant parties to address such issues in a manner that is objective and fair.
The Chinese Embassy in Kenya