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Hong Kong votes to ban ivory trade by 2021

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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.

Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.