Above the mob: Yao being mobbed by the media while arriving for the opening of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. - AFP
BEIJING: Former NBA star Yao Ming, also a political adviser in China, wants his country to do more to stop the trade in illegal ivory.
“Buying ivory is buying bullets,” Yao, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told reporters attending the CPPCC annual session in Beijing, heaping pressure on the world’s leading tusk consumer.
Yao is well known for his stance against poaching and his high-profile campaigns against the trade. He wants legislation to prevent the sale of any illegal animal products and wider publicity for the cause.
Ivory remains legal in China if it comes from a registered dealer.
Yao’s proposal to the CPPCC asks for a total ban on all domestic trade in ivory and ivory products and an end to imports.
“The ban will protect elephants,” he said.
Ivory products are always used as bribes, and are an important feature of the extravagance and corruption in China, Yao added.
China banned trading in endangered species such as the giant panda, the golden monkey and the white-flag dolphin in the late 1980s.
Between December 2013 and January 2014, China led operation Cobra II, a strike against international wildlife crime organised by China, the United States, South Africa, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, the Asean Wildlife Enforcement Network and the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network.
Over 350 cases were dealt with and in excess of three tonnes of ivory and ivory products seized, along with more than 1,000 hides and numerous other wildlife products.
In January, 6.1 tonnes of confiscated ivory, seized over a number of years, were destroyed in south China’s Guangdong province.
“This shows China’s determination to stop poaching and the illegal trade in animal products,” Yao said in his proposal.
“Ivory smuggling and the ivory trade damage China’s image,” he added. — Xinhua