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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian of China to South Africa at the Wildlife Protection Donation Ceremony

4 March 2018

Mr. Glenn Phillips, Managing Director of the Kruger National Park,

Representatives of the South African Government,

Distinguished Guests,

Dear Friends from the Media of China and South Africa,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning!

Over the past two days, the Chinese Embassy , the Chinese community and South Africa friends have gathered here to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival and the 20th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. Yesterday is the World Wildlife Day. People around the world is committed to protection of wildlife. It is all the more significant that the Chinese Embassy and Chinese Community organzied charity sale for wildlife protection during the two-day carnival in celebration of Chinse Lantern Festival. The Charity Sale has received generous contribution from the Chinese community in South Africa and enjoyed warm participation by our South African friends. It is very moving and encouraging that when we share the joy of the celebration, we have also contributed to the cause of wildlife protection, fully demonstrating our common aspiration and commitment to wildlife protection.

Now, I am very pleased to announce that our charity sale has raised 200,000 Rand, and we hereby donate the full amount of 200,000 Rand raised to the Kruger National Park of South Africa. It is our sincere hope that this charity sale and donation will contribute to wildlife protection in South Africa, and that through this event, more and more Chinese and South African people will increase their awareness in wildlife protection.

Your Hon. Minister,

Respecting the nature and cherishing life is the consistent idea and aspiration of the Chinese culture. In the traditional Chinese culture, we believe in “unity of the universe and human”. The essence of this idea is to view the nature and mankind as a harmonious union, emphasizing harmonious coexistence between the two. As H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping instructed us that, sound ecological environment is the most equal public good and offers the most universal public welfare. He also stressed that man and nature form a community of life. We must respect the nature, follow the laws of nature, and protect the nature. Upholding harmonious coexistence between man and nature is an important part of China’s efforts in upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It is an objective requirement and active pursuit of our efforts to building a beautiful China. It also offers us the direction towards building a community with a shared future for mankind and towards building a clean and beautiful world.

The Chinese government always attaches great importance to the protection of wildlife and has been committed to the cause since the founding of the new China. Our efforts are mainly two-fold. In terms of legislation, we have adopted methods to Protect Rare Biological Species, the Law on the Protection of Wildlife, Regulations for the Implementation of the Protection of Terrestrial Wildlife and many other laws and regulations on wildlife protection. In terms of actions, we have taken a series of practical, feasible and firm measures. Take the protection of elephants as an example, the Chinese government has taken unprecedented robust measures to crack down on illegal ivory smuggling. As we all know, ivory carving is an important intangible cultural heritage cherished in China for tens of centuries. But to show the strong determination and resolve of the Chinese government and people on wildlife protection, we have decided to put an end to all ivory products, including those that are legally sourced on 31 December last year. From that day on, trade on ivory products is completely banned in China. In addition, in November last year, large internet companies in China have formed a new alliance to combat wildlife cybercrimes. These major steps have proven highly effective in wildlife protection, having established a role model for the international community in wildlife protection.

Wildlife protection is not just a matter for a few countries, but a common cause for the whole mankind. As a contracting party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Chinese government has always taken an active part in international cooperation to combat all crimes against wildlife. From 2013 to 2015, China has joined forces with South Africa, the United States, Interpol and other countries and organizations to carry out three anti-smuggling endangered species activities code-named “Operation COBRA”, effectively curbing criminal activities such as smuggling ivory, and receiving high praise from the CITES Secretary General. In 2014, during the visit of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, China announced 10 million US dollars of support for Africa’s wildlife protection.

It is very sad to see that despite all of our efforts, there are still few number of Chinese, driven by interest, commit crimes of illegal poaching, and the smuggling of wild animals, plants, and their products. Their crimes gravely undermine the image and interest of China and the Chinese people. I am very sure that those individual cases cannot and will not obliterate the important contributions and firm resolve of the Chinese government and the Chinese people in wildlife protection.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our commitment that, for the Chinese citizen, no matter whether he is in China or anywhere else, the Chinese government commits ourselves to the policy of “zero tolerance” to any crime against wildlife. It is our clear-cut and consistent position that we fully support South Africa and other African countries to strictly punish all these crimes according to laws.

In jointly combating crimes against wildlife, we do face certain local judicial challenges, one of which is that criminals sometimes get off easily by paying a small fine rather than their due punishment. To address such issues, we are ready to strengthen cooperation with South African law enforcement, enhance information sharing, so as to take toughest measures at home and abroad to punish and deter those criminal activities. We sincerely hope that relevant South African authorities will respond positively to our proposals.

To conclude, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I wish to express our appreciation to both fellow Chinese and South African friends for all your kind and generous support. We sincerely hope and believe that protecting wildlife will become the consensus and common cause of the Chinese and the South African people. Let us join hands and work together for a beautiful world of harmonious development between man and nature!

Thank you!

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