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Beijing (AFP) March 11, 2013
A Chinese legislator who heads a forestry company has urged the country to save more trees by reducing the 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks it makes each year, state media say.
"We must change our consumption habits and encourage people to carry their own tableware," Bo Guangxin, the chairman of Jilin Forestry Industry Group, was quoted as telling fellow delegates at the country's annual parliament session on Friday.
China's chopstick production amounted to 20 million 20-year-old trees, enough to fill Tiananmen Square with 360 layers of the single-use utensil, the Xinhua state news agency cited him as saying.
Representatives to the rubber-stamp National People's Congress meet each year largely to approve decisions already made by the country's communist leaders.
China is the world's largest consumer and importer of wood, and imposed a five percent tax on disposable chopsticks and wooden floor panels in 2006 in an effort to reduce timber wastage.
The country's demand for foreign wood had tripled since 2000 to reach 180 million cubic metres in 2011, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said in a report last year.
The campaign group said the growing appetite for timber -- with at least one-tenth of supplies coming from illegal sources -- meant that "the fate of much of the world's natural forests is in China's hands".
Guinea-Bissau blocks timber exports to China
A law dating back to 1974 has made the export of timber illegal since the former Portuguese colony gained independence in the same year, but it has almost never been applied.
"We have passed a law banning the export of logs. We must apply it. We (are monitoring) 124 containers at the port which are ready to be shipped (but) they will not go to China," National Assembly president Sori Djalo told lawmakers.
Logging has become a contentious issue in Guinea-Bissau after violence flared last week between young protesters and Chinese loggers in Colibuia, a town 240 kilometres (150 miles) southeast of the capital.
"We cannot stand by (without doing anything) because the forest is our future and that of our children," Bocar Seidi Lemos, a youth leader in Colibuia, told AFP.
"They operate with the complicity of senior officials in the administration or the army," he added.
Director of forestry Luis Mendes Olundo said no logging licences had been granted to Chinese companies and that if any were operating, they must have been using licences transferred from local firms.
The export volume of timber authorised annually averages 20,000 cubic metres (1.5 million cubic feet) but twice that volume has already been shipped this year, according to a government report.
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