A male pangolin found in Taimushan town of Fuding, a county-level city in Fujian province, was released in good physical condition. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)
China lodged solemn representations to the United States on Saturday rejecting accusations that it has enabled illicit trade in pangolins.
China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration expressed its serious concern at accusations made by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on Friday that China is "diminishing the effectiveness" of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora by engaging in the trade or taking of pangolin species.
The NFGA, which oversees wildlife management in China, said the U.S. has disregarded the significant efforts and achievements made by China in protecting pangolins worldwide.
The administration said that the U.S. action represents another example of its abuse of extraterritorial jurisdiction and goes against the principles of objectivity and fairness, extremely undermining global cooperation in pangolin conservation.
"As the leading agency responsible for implementing CITES, the NFGA expresses serious concerns about the U.S. move and strongly opposes any attempt to damage China's reputation in pangolin protection," it said, adding that China has already lodged a solemn representation with the U.S. and will continue to do so.
After Haaland's issuing of the finding, U.S. President Joe Biden has 60 days to notify Congress of any action to be taken.
In the past decade, the Chinese government has strengthened the protection of endangered wildlife and plants, achieving noteworthy accomplishments, the statement said.
In 2020, all species of pangolin were identified as national first-class protected wildlife, it said, noting that in the same year, the Pangolin Conservation Research Center was established to enhance rescue, breeding and field research of pangolins.
"The Chinese government has issued notices to further strengthen pangolin conservation by intensifying the protection and monitoring of pangolin populations and their habitats in the wild, and strictly prohibiting hunting and consumption of pangolins, which has effectively promoted the recovery of wild pangolin populations in China," the administration said.
It added that China has fulfilled its obligations under CITES by ceasing commercial import and export activities of pangolins and their derivatives. The country has also established an inter-ministerial joint meeting mechanism consisting of 27 departments to combat the illegal trading of wildlife.
The NFGA stressed that, for over a decade, China has provided continuous capacity-building support in wildlife protection to countries where pangolins live, collaborating with Asian and African countries to carry out a series of actions against the illegal wildlife trade.
China has made significant contributions to strengthening global pangolin conservation and combating the illegal wildlife trade, and has been recognized with numerous awards, such as the certificates of commendation from the secretary-general of CITES, the Asian Environmental Enforcement Awards, and the Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards, it said, adding that these achievements should not be discredited.
"China will further enhance cooperation with the international community, take proactive and practical actions, and play a greater role in the protection of endangered wildlife, including pangolins," the statement said.