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  • An officer holds a package containing crushed tiger bones, seized by the UK Border Force at Heathrow Airport. London, Britain, Nov. 22.

    An officer holds a package containing crushed tiger bones, seized by the UK Border Force at Heathrow Airport. London, Britain, Nov. 22. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 November 2018

Strong critiques from local and international environmentalists seemingly forced the Chinese government to postpone its decision to lift restrictions of wildlife-related trade.

China reversed its decision Wednesday to legalize the trade in tiger claws and rhinoceros horns. These two endangered species are currently under the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). 

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China Deputy Secretary General of the State Council Ding Xuedong said that his government has decided to postpone the ordinance issued in October and would stop trade in products derived from tigers and rhinos.

"The Chinese government has not changed its position regarding the protection of wildlife, and will not reduce the suppression of illegal trade and other criminal activities linked to the trade in rhinos and tigers," he said, as reported by Xinhua.

On Oct. 30, China's State Council presented new rules that would have allowed the use of rhino horn and tiger parts. Although such norms banned the sale, use, import and export of wildlife products, they allowed exceptions for medical and scientific research, educational use, and as part of "cultural exchanges." 

Horns of rhinos or bones of tigers that were bred in captivity could be used "for medical research or clinical treatment of critical illnesses," the rule said.

On that occasion, regarding the use of tiger bone and rhino horn from captive bred animals, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) called on the Chinese government to maintain and expand the ban on tiger bone and rhino horn trade in order to conserve these iconic species.

 

While China's State Council has decided to postpone the October-issued rules, it is not yet clear how long the ban will continue. Nevertheless, according to an official statement reported by AsiaNews, three bans will remain in force: the import and export of rhinos, tigers and their by-products; the sale, purchase, transport, carrying and mailing of rhinos, tigers and their by-products; and the use of rhino horns and tiger bones.

Trade in rhinos horns and tiger bones have been banned in China since 1993. Illegal trade, however, has been a common practice since traditionally animal parts are found to have exceptional positive effects on human health, according to Chinese tradicional medicine.

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