Southern Africa: China, SADC to Join Forces On Ivory Trafficking

24 August 2017

Windhoek — The People's Republic of China is willing to assist Namibia and other SADC countries to launch a robust joint regional law-enforcement initiative to tackle head-on the trafficking of elephant ivory, rhino horns and other wildlife products, as part of China's resolve to combat the scourge of poaching.

New Chinese ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, made the revelation at his debut media conference at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Windhoek on Tuesday.

Namibia and other SADC countries have been overwhelmed by cases in which locals colluding with Asians specifically the Chinese have been arrested and large quantities of ivory, rhino horns and pangolin skins and other prohibited game products confiscated while in transit to Asian markets.

Zhang said his country does not support poaching or the trafficking of ivory, rhino horns and other game products and as such it has ratified the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and other international treaties as part of its resolve to help the global initiative to combat this scourge.

He noted that since he initially presented his diplomatic credentials to President Hage Geingob a fortnight ago, he was also asked a similar question.

"I want to assure you that our government - the Chinese government - is totally against any illegal poaching. We signed some CITES treaties from 1993. The Chinese government has already made a law against any illegal poaching. We have a law completely prohibiting any rhino horn trade and last year China also officially announced it has forbidden any commercial trade in ivory," he said, explaining the measures taken by his government on rhino horn and ivory trade.

"As the Ambassador of China, I can tell you China will never defend these people. On the contrary, we would like to cooperate with the Namibian government and law enforcement agents to punish these people - not only Chinese nationals but other nationals who violate Namibian wildlife laws," he said. He also revealed that he had a meeting with Police Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga and they exchanged views on how best they could work together to eliminate trans-national crimes.

He said a joint law enforcement plan of action could be launched that would involve China, Namibia and possibly other SADC countries that face the problem of ivory and rhino horn trafficking. In the same vein, Zhang lamented the fact that a few Namibian media houses are systematically involved in tarnishing the entire Chinese community linking them to game-product trafficking. He added that the Namibian media landscape seems to have become more negative compared to six years ago, in 2011, when he served as the deputy head of mission at the Chinese Embassy in Windhoek.

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