Nanning, China, 2nd July 2012—Officials from ASEAN member countries and China recently met to enhance collaboration between China’s National Inter-agency CITES Enforcement Coordination Group (NICE-CG) and ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.
Dr Meng Xianlin, Executive Deputy Director of China’s Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office, remarked in his opening address on the importance of enhanced communications and collaboration in wildlife trade management and law enforcement between China and the 10 ASEAN member countries – namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The meeting focused on the fact that illegal trade in wildlife threatens the planet’s natural heritage, in addition to the political, economic, and social interests of China and ASEAN.
This inaugural technical consultation meeting on wildlife enforcement co-operation and CITES matters between the NICE-CG and ASEAN-WEN was attended by over 60 wildlife law enforcement officials from the 10 ASEAN-WEN member countries, China and the USA. Representatives from INTERPOL, TRAFFIC, the USAID-funded ARREST Program, FREELAND Foundation, IFAW and Conservation International also participated in the meeting.
“As one of the major consumers of wildlife resources, China is making efforts to regulate the management of wildlife trade and curb the illegal trade in flora and flora, for example, enforcing new laws and regulations, implementing a labelling system for ivory products, setting-up a national co-ordination group, and undertaking nation-wide wildlife law enforcement actions,” Dr Meng said.
“We hope China and ASEAN countries can work together to prevent wildlife crime, because such efforts are important to promote harmony between human beings and nature.”
TRAFFIC, one of the co-sponsors of the meeting, gave a presentation on its work with government law enforcement agencies to combat illegal wildlife trade in China and ASEAN, through provision of evidence-based research and information, combined with capacity building support for enforcement agencies. During the past 12 months, TRAFFIC has supported a total of 10 enforcement training workshops at provincial, regional, or national level, targeting nearly 1,000 enforcement officials from a range of Chinese government agencies, including the CITES Management Authority, Customs, Forest Police, Border Police, General Administration of Industry & Commerce, General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection & Quarantine and Fishery departments.
Southern China, particularly the provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi and Guangdong, is a critical region for wildlife trafficking and consumption, with strong trade and geographical links to ASEAN. The number of wildlife criminal cases in these three provinces accounted for 68.3% of the national total according to National Forest Police statistics in 2011.
TRAFFIC worked with the National Forest Police Bureau of State Forestry Administration to hold a ‘South China Wildlife Enforcement Training Workshop’ in Kunming of Yunnan Province in May, attended by more than 70 representatives from Forest Police, Customs, as well as the Procuratorate and Courts of Yunnan, Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.
The Nanning meeting recommended that China and ASEAN-WEN work together closely on specific aspects of information sharing and public awareness, capacity building and training, reducing demand for illegal wildlife products. This includes facilitation of law enforcement cooperation and coordination within their respective purview and in accordance with their respective applicable national laws and regulations, and where applicable, international treaties and conventions to which ASEAN Member States and China are Parties to.
A formal Letter of Understanding on Joint Efforts to Curb Illegal Trade in Wildlife between ASEAN-WEN and NICE-CG China was revised at the meeting, and will be finalized after being endorsed by ASEAN Secretariat.
Dr Jianbin Shi, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Programme, welcomed the progress and achievement being made at this meeting: “This strategic collaboration between China’s NICE-CG and ASEAN-WEN is a major inter-governmental step towards curbing illegal wildlife trade, particularly with ASEAN moving towards a single Customs control ‘window’ in the near future.”
“The establishment of NICE-CG has institutionalized the collaborative efforts of member departments in controlling wildlife crime in China. TRAFFIC will support the NICE-CG wherever possible to help break illegal wildlife trade chains, and to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products in China,” he added.
In Southeast Asia, TRAFFIC continues to provide capacity building support to ASEAN-WEN member countries, including through the production and distribution of newly updated species identification materials in all regional languages. These have now been translated into Chinese and made available to authorities in China. TRAFFIC’s support of ASEAN-WEN member countries has focused most recently on combating marine turtle trade in Southeast Asia, as well as enhancing wildlife trade law enforcement in Cambodia.
This technical consultation meeting between China’s NICEC-CG and ASEAN-WEN further enhances and expands China’s resolve to co-operate with neighbouring countries in combating illegal wildlife trade. These efforts have included the trilateral meeting between China, Nepal and India held in Chengdu in last October and China’s engagement with the first meeting of the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network in Sri Lanka at the beginning of this month .
TRAFFIC is grateful for support from WWF Germany to support our work in East Asia.