Tuesday, July 15, 2008

China allowed to buy ivory stockpiles

If one thought the media would treat China gently with just over three weeks until the Beijing games, one would be wrong. Tonight, China was in the spotlight after it was revealed the country would soon benefit from being allowed to import a vast amount of stockpiled ivory gathered from legal culling and natural deaths. However, animal rights activists have slammed the ‘one-off sale” saying it will further encourage illegal poaching. The ivory accounts for more than 11,000 elephant across parts of Africa including Zimbabwe where 3.7 tonnes of the valuable commodity is stockpiled. But the largest stockpile sits in Botswana where more than 43 tonnes has accumulated. Opponents of the sale fear that after the stockpiles are used up poachers will return to killing elephants in countries such as Chad, Nigeria and the DRC where 23,000 elephants were killed last year alone according to IFAW. On their website the International Fund for Animal Welfare said, “China has the world's biggest illegal market for traded ivory and IFAW and other NGOs believe that if it becomes a trading partner, illegal traders will use this legitimate status as a smokescreen behind which to sell poached ivory” [Channel Four News / BBC]. However China has more to worry about than international concerns over ivory sales, its recent veto of planned sanctions against Zimbabwe and clamping down on protestors.
In the rush to make the Olympic Games just right there has been a massive effort to clear the pollution not only in the air but also the algae infested sea near Beijing. Up to 10,000 troops helped clear tonnes of the blue-green algae which threatened the upcoming sailing events during the games [BBC]. While China says the algae is a natural phenomenon, environmentalists have blamed the weed growth at Qingdao on pollution.
Another huge effort is being made to feed the thousands expected to descend on the capital over the coming weeks. Restaurants have sprung up across Beijing hoping to make the many foreign visitors feel at home. There are now eateries catering for many different tastes; Greek, Vietnamese, Italian, German, French, Ethiopian, Spanish and Singaporean to name but a few. There are more than 40,000 restaurants across the city, and many will be packed with nearly half a million visitors that will arrive very soon [CNN]. Over the next three weeks leading up to the Olympics tvnewswatch will bring special reports from China as internet and other technical issues allow. So stay tuned for reports from the ground in southern China, Xian where a total eclipse is due and from Beijing in what has been dubbed by many media commentators as “China’s coming out party”.

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