China sees slump in ivory smuggling amid intense crackdown

BEIJING, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) — China has seen a significant decline in ivory smuggling, as efforts to clamp down on the practice intensified, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said Monday.

The total volume of seized ivory products plunged to 68 kg last year from 9.2 tonnes in 2019, Ni Yuefeng, head of the GAC, said at a work conference.

Ni said the customs authorities had always prioritized the fight against the smuggling of solid wastes from overseas, endangered species and their products, frozen commodities, refined oil products and narcotics.

In 2021, the customs investigated 4,259 criminal cases of smuggling, 23,294 cases involving smuggling practice, and 52,542 cases of irregularities and other violations.

China has also seen a sharp decline in the illegal import of wastes, as attested by the United Nations awarding the country the Asia Environment Enforcement Award for the fourth time in 2021, Ni said.

Last year, Chinese customs seized 42,000 tonnes of smuggled foreign wastes, down 97.4 percent from the previous year, according to the GAC.

Once the world’s biggest recipient of overseas trash, starting in 2021, China banned imports of all solid wastes, the pinnacle of efforts to phase out the practice as the country shifts toward a greener model.

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