by Staff Writers
Lubumbashi, Dr Congo (AFP) May 5, 2017
Fourteen Chinese people suspected of illegally exporting red wood from the Democratic Republic of Congo were arrested Thursday, local officials said, as Beijing stressed Friday its commitment to tackling the illegal trade.
"We have arrested Chinese people... who were cutting wood in our region," Celestin Pande, acting governor of the Haut-Katanga region, told AFP.
China responded Friday by saying it supported wildlife conservation and backed efforts to stamp out illegal activities.
"We have noted the relevant reports. China respects the efforts of the Democratic Republic of Congo to justly handle the case according to the law," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
"We also hope the lawful rights of Chinese citizens can be safeguarded. We want to stress that China is a signatory of CITES," the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species which also covers the illegal timber trade.
"For those who are engaged in illegal trade of wildlife products we have zero tolerance. Chinese law enforcement has made efforts to combat trafficking," added Gueng.
"We are ready to work with the rest of the world to enhance law enforcement ability to support sustainable trade of wildlife animals and plants."
Pande said 17,000 tonnes of red wood had been illegally exported to China through Zambia over four months.
"We have arrested 14 Chinese nationals with (tourist) visas, who were involved in cutting and illegally exporting red wood," an immigration official in Haut-Katanga added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Since the beginning of the year, a crisis linked to exotic wood exports has poisoned relations between DR Congo and neighbouring Zambia.
Zambia has seized several hundred vehicles transporting padauk, a dense wood used in construction and woodworking, from DR Congo as part of investigations into exports to China.
Kinshasa has denounced the seizure, but on Thursday a delegation from the capital decided to ban the logging and exportation of red wood from Haut-Katanga.
Haut-Katanga's forests have been devastated by illegal logging, with wood mostly used for charcoal, the main source of energy for an electricity-deprived population.
Lubumbashi, Dr Congo (AFP) May 4, 2017
Fourteen Chinese people suspected of illegally exporting red wood from the Democratic Republic of Congo were arrested Thursday, local officials said. "We have arrested Chinese people... who were cutting wood in our region," Celestin Pande, acting governor of the Haut-Katanga region, told AFP. Pande said 17,000 tonnes of red wood had been illegally exported to China through Zambia over f ... read more
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