Vietnam investigating China's detention of Vietnamese girl for ivory smuggling

By Khanh Lynh   May 18, 2018 | 09:11 am GMT+7
Vietnam investigating China's detention of Vietnamese girl for ivory smuggling
Vietnam and China remain top markets for ivory products used for decorative purposes or in traditional medicine, despite the lack of scientific evidence. Photo by AFP

The 13-year-old girl was caught crossing the border with 4.4 pounds of ivory necklaces and rings.

Vietnam on Thursday said it is looking into the detention of one of its minor citizens by Chinese authorities for smuggling ivory accessories, and will take protection measures if necessary.

The Consulate General of Vietnam in Nanning is contacting the Chinese authorities to learn more about the incident and their approach in handling it, Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

The 13-year-old girl, whose name has not been revealed, was crossing the border between Mong Cai Town in Vietnam's Quang Ninh Province and Dongxing Port in China's Guangxi Province on May 4 when she was stopped by Chinese customs officers.

Officers found the girl suspicious as she tried to walk past them quickly with hands in her pockets while wearing a long-sleeved jacket despite the hot weather, according to Sina.

A quick check uncovered 30 necklaces and 19 rings made of ivory, weighing two kilograms (4.4 pounds), strapped around her torso.

The girl told the officers that she had been hired by "someone else" to smuggle the accessories across the border.

The import and export of ivory or ivory products is made illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (CITES) and Chinese regulations.

The case is still under further investigation and it remains uncertain whether the girl would face any charges by the Chinese authority.

"Vietnam is ready to take necessary measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the citizen," Hang said.

The global trade in elephant ivory has been widely outlawed since 1989 after populations of the African giants dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to around 600,000 by the end of the 1980s, AFP reported.

The population is now believed to be some 415,000, with 30,000 illegally killed each year.

Elephant ivory can fetch up to $1,100 per kilogram (2.2 pounds), the report said.

Despite the ivory trade being outlawed in both countries, Vietnam and China remain top markets for ivory products used for decorative purposes or in traditional medicine, despite the lack of scientific evidence.

Vietnam is one of the major transit points for tusks trafficked from Africa to China and other parts of Asia.

 
 
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