Chinese State Visit To Tanzania Used To Smuggle Ivory, Report Says
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese officials and businesspeople used a state trip by President Xi Jinping and other high-level visits to smuggle ivory out of Tanzania, an environmental watchdog said Thursday, casting doubt over Beijing’s efforts to end the illegal trade that has led to rampant elephant poaching throughout Africa.
China is the world’s largest importer of smuggled tusks, and Tanzania is the largest source of poached ivory, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said. Poaching in Tanzania alone has killed half of the country’s elephants in the past five years, the group said in the report. It said Chinese-led criminal gangs conspired with corrupt Tanzanian officials to traffic huge amounts of ivory, some of which was loaded in diplomatic bags on Xi’s plane during a presidential visit in March 2013.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the report. Spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing that China has “consistently” opposed poaching and has sought to crack down on ivory smuggling.
“The report is groundless, and we express our strong dissatisfaction,” Hong said.
Meng Xianlin, director general of the Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office of China, said he has never heard of involvement of Chinese delegations in ivory trade.
“I don’t think there’s hard —> Read More Here