Secretary Jewell Meets with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang to Discuss International Cooperation to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade

China, United States are world’s largest markets for black market trade

Last edited 09/29/2021
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BEIJING, China – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell met with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang last week to discuss cooperation between the two countries in combating illegal trade in wildlife that threatens to drive elephants, rhinoceroses and pangolins into extinction, along with many other land and marine species.

“If we are going to be successful in ending the poaching of elephants and other species that are imperiled by illegal trade orchestrated by international criminal cartels, China and the United States both must take strong action to reduce demand, strengthen law enforcement, and increase international cooperation,” said Jewell. “I applaud China for taking steps forward – including crushing tons of confiscated ivory and committing to end domestic ivory trade – but more work lies ahead for both countries, and the United States is committed to being a strong partner in these efforts.”

The United States and China are the world’s two biggest markets for illegal wildlife products, which includes ivory. To promote international cooperation, Jewell announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would station a law enforcement attaché in Beijing beginning next year.

Jewell met with the Vice Premier as part of an official trip to Vietnam and China to build international cooperation in combatting illegal wildlife trade as well as promote tourism to the U.S. in advance of next year’s Centennial of the National Park Service.

In July 2013, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to combat wildlife trafficking. The order established an interagency Task Force and charged it with developing a National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking. With input from an advisory council of experts on wildlife trafficking, the Task Force set forth a robust government approach that focuses on three key objectives to stop wildlife trafficking: strengthening enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and expanding international cooperation.

Jewell joined U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and other officials last month at New York City’s Times Square, where more than one ton of illegal ivory was crushed. This was the second ivory crush conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to shut down the ivory market.

The visit comes on the heels of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. The U.S. and China pledged to increase cooperation and intensify collaboration to address the global challenge of wildlife trafficking. Specifically, the U.S. and China agreed to take steps to further restrict imports and domestic trade in elephant ivory. For the first time, the countries tackled marine species, agreeing to collaborate in stemming the illegal trade in totoaba and sea turtles, share public education best practices, and work jointly on enforcement. The two countries also agreed to explore opportunities to use new and emerging technologies to inform and improve wildlife protection and law enforcement.

Building upon their successful cooperation in the recent Cobra III international law enforcement action, the U.S. and China plan to continue to work together to disrupt criminal networks, target key supply chain chokepoints, enforce criminal penalties sufficient to deter future wildlife trafficking, and develop wildlife capacities globally through law enforcement training.

The U.S. and China reaffirmed their commitment to trilateral cooperation in Africa to fight wildlife trafficking at the source. They also discussed how to intensify demand reduction efforts jointly in collaboration with other governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, and local communities.

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