FOLLOWING reports that exports of Namibian timber to China have increased dramatically, Chinese embassy official Yang Jun refuted these claims, saying only a small fraction of the timber reached China.
Yang, who is the charge d'affairs in the Chinese embassy, denied the claims during a Meatco event in Windhoek last Thursday when the corporation announced its first meat consignment to the Asian country.
The Namibian reported early last month that timber exports to China had increased from 22 truckloads in 2015 to 89 truckloads in 2018, and to 208 truckloads during the first quarter of 2019.
Just recently, the Namibian Chamber of Environment released a statement to express concern over the uncontrolled commercial harvesting of the slow-growing hardwood trees in north-eastern Namibia, which could contribute to devastating effects on the environment.
The entity called for the harvesting of timber to be discontinued if it is to be exported in unprocessed form, and for the management of woodlands to be enforced.
"Chinese nationals are purchasing this timber at ridiculously low prices, and are making enormous profits after exporting it," the statement read.
Yang, however, failed to provide statistics to back up his claim that only a few Chinese businessmen deal in timber.
During the event, he said there have been a lot of accusations against Chinese businessmen that are at most "ill-founded, lies and are false".
He then gave the example of Chinese men cutting timber and sending it to China as the biggest lie of them all.
"Actually, the Chinese businessmen only form a small fraction of tree dealers, and only a small portion of custom trees have been sold to China. Those logs were cut down by local farmers, not the Chinese.
"So, if cutting those trees or trade in trees can do harm to the local environment, some research should be done, and action should be taken. I think it is unfair and unreasonable to pick out the Chinese and criticise them," he stated.