At the very end of 2016, China’s State Council — the country’s chief administrative authority — announced a ban on ivory trade in the mainland that would take place in a year’s time. The move was heralded as a “game changer,” and over the course of 2017, China closed over a hundred shops and factories producing ivory products. But several loopholes remained for primarily wealthy, status symbol-seeking Chinese to purchase their ivory products.
Today, one of those loopholes started to close, because Hong Kong’s Legislative Council followed the mainland and voted to ban ivory trade in the Special Administrative Region.
- Hong Kong, “the world’s largest ivory market,” will phase out ivory trade in three parts, the BBC reports.
- First, ivory from after 1975 — when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) took effect — will be banned.
- At an unspecified “later” time, ivory from before 1975 will also be banned.
- By 2021, all ivory traders will be required to dispose of their stock.
- There will also be “no compensation for ivory dealers, and an increase of maximum penalties for wildlife crimes of up to 10 years imprisonment,” according to TRAFFIC, an NGO tracking wildlife trade.
- Up until now, 90 percent of ivory buyers in Hong Kong were from mainland China. Wildlife advocates called the ban a “great moment in the history of elephant conservation,” though many have noted that fully shutting down ivory trade in East Asia will require addressing the relatively unregulated markets in Laos, Vietnam, and Japan.
- See additional coverage of the ban, including pictures and video of wildlife campaigners in Hong Kong, at the Hong Kong Free Press.
- Organized crime
Two Hong Kong companies named as hub of international drugs and human trafficking ring / SCMP
“US Treasury slaps sanctions on mainland-born businessman it says is kingpin of operation based around casino in Laos.”
- Trump Administration
Trump alarms China with ‘Cold War’ rhetoric in State of Union address / Washington Post
- Nuclear power
China creates nuclear powerhouse / WSJ (paywall)
“Two of the country’s largest nuclear-power firms remerge in effort to boost market power and efficiency.”
- The Vatican and Beijing
Frequent Sinica Podcast guest Ian Johnson tweets: “Rites Controversy Redux: after blowing its mission to China 300 years ago, the Vatican is hoping for ‘another bite at the apple.’” Johnson then links to a “good explainer on why the Church is eager for a deal with China.”
Vatican and China: Cardinal Zen’s intervention raises some very uncomfortable questions / Catholic Herald
“If the cardinal is right, the Vatican delegation in China went behind the Pope’s back and defied his wishes.”
Vatican rebukes retired Hong Kong cardinal after remarks on ‘selling out’ of Chinese Catholics / SCMP
- China’s ban on imported waste
Hong Kong drowning in waste as China rubbish ban takes toll / Reuters
- Political prisoners
Chinese police’s recent re-detention of Swedish Citizen Gui Minhai: What’s the story? / Jerome A. Cohen’s blog
Wife of jailed Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-che again barred from boarding flight to see husband on mainland / SCMP