China’s Belt and Road Initiative could pose increased risk to endangered wildlife, EIA warns UK MPs - EIA
The global spread of China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) brings with it increased risks of endangered wildlife consumption and illegal wildlife trade, UK politicians were warned.
At an event organised by the All-Party Parliamentary China Group in Parliament yesterday (11 March), EIA Wildlife Campaigner and China Specialist Aron White cautioned that the international proliferation of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) – touted as a pillar of the BRI – poses potential risks for biodiversity around the world.
BRI is China’s flagship strategy loosely encompassing major infrastructure projects funded largely by Chinese finance in Asia, Africa and Europe, including roads, railways, ports and power plants (mostly run on fossil fuels), as well as initiatives to promote elements of Chinese culture such as TCM internationally.
EIA was invited to take part in a panel discussion chaired by Geraint Davies MP on the environmental risks and opportunities posed by the BRI; also participating was Dr Sam Geall, Executive Director of China Dialogue, and Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Policy and Translation at Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College.
White told the event how wildlife products such as leopard bone, pangolin scales and bear bile in TCM is still legal in China, despite the availability of sustainable herbal substitutes and statements from many within the industry that such ingredients are not necessary.
International expansion of TCM without simultaneous commitments from China’s policy-makers to end the use of threatened wildlife risks being interpreted as an endorsement of the industry in its current form and could also increase demand for and production of TCM using wildlife ingredients.