The following statement was released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Executive Director Aili Kang: “China has announced today that it will close its domestic commercial elephant ivory trade in 2017. President Xi Jinping announced last year that China would take this action and now we have a timeline. This is great news that will shut down the world’s largest market for elephant ivory. I am very proud of my country for showing this leadership that will help ensure that elephants have a fighting chance to beat extinction. This is a game changer for Africa’s elephants.
“This action by China has come as momentum has been building to close domestic ivory markets around the globe. In 2016, In 2015, Presidents Obama and Xi first announced a joint commitment to ban domestic sales and international trade of ivory. IUCN at the World Conservation Congress voted to support the closing of all domestic ivory markets, and subsequently, the CITES Cop17 recommended that all countries close those markets. In addition, the United States enacted in 2016 a regulation to close its domestic elephant ivory market.
"Ivory traffickers have just lost one of their biggest markets. “The announcement from the General Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China included: the country will stop all its legal commercial sales – physical and online -- of elephant ivory in 2017; ivory carving groups will be encouraged to change their business; and ivory carving masters will be encouraged to work for museums to do work related to culture relic restoration. In addition, public security, customs, industry and commercial, and forestry departments will enhance law enforcement, including continuing efforts to take enforcement actions on illegal processing, selling, transportation and smuggling of ivory and its product, with a focus on investigating and destroying illegal processing sites and cutting off illegal trade channels via physical markets and online channels.
“China will also conduct public education and outreach activities to raise ecological civilization awareness, to guide the public to refuse to buy any ivory and ivory products, and to develop a good social environment to protect elephants and other wildlife.
“At WCS, we call on all other countries with legal domestic ivory markets to follow China's lead and close their markets as well.”