China's Ministry of State Security reveals a case of illegal collecting of China's key protected species and transferring them overseas
Published: Feb 17, 2024 05:08 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

China's state security agency on Saturday revealed a case of illegal collection of China's key protected species and their transfer abroad, with the individual involved deported according to law.

In recent years, there have been frequent cases of illegal collection of wildlife and plant resources in China, posing a serious threat to the country's ecological security.

In April 2020, the state security agency received a tip-off from the public that a foreign national was illegally collecting China's key protected species from within a national-level nature reserve. The national security agency quickly coordinated with relevant departments to conduct an investigation, resulting in the immediate and on-the-spot arrest of the foreign national who was illegally collecting rare wild plants from within the nature reserve.

The ensuing investigation found that the foreign national was instructed by overseas institutions to illegally root out and collect thousands of species of wild plant specimens and seed samples. The foreign national transported them abroad on nearly 2,000 occasions through illegal channels, with transaction records totaling nearly 1 million yuan ($ 0.14 million) and illegal profits amounting to tens of thousands of yuan. Faced with irrefutable evidence, the foreign national confessed to actions of illegally collecting wild plants. The state security agency has deported the personal involved according to law, successfully cutting off the "black hand" of foreign forces infringing on China's ecological security.

The Ministry of State Security stated that the "buyer" associated with the foreign national was based overseas, with covert and secretive communication channels. Overseas institutions or individuals usually use online platforms such as social media to remotely control and direct individuals within China, specifying the requirements for collecting specific species and sizes of plant specimens, negotiating prices and deadlines, or "teaching" theft techniques and "emergency plans" to individuals within China. Subsequently, under the remote guidance of the overseas party, the individual, posing as "plant enthusiasts," would visit sensitive locations to illegally collect rare wild plants.

After receiving remote information from overseas, the foreign national  involved in the case gathered information on various rare plant species and their locations in China, and then under the guise of tourism, the foreign national carried out these illegal acts. Since 2011, the foreign national has made dozens of "tourist" trips to various nature reserves and scenic spots in Southwest China's Sichuan, South China's Yunnan, and other provinces in China, taking the opportunity to illegally collect live plant specimens, roots, and gather plant seeds.

To evade inspections and cover up his illegal activities, the foreign national used the names of fictitious companies or organizations to contact illegal express delivery intermediaries online and send plant or seed packages to avoid supervision. Investigations revealed that over a period of nine years, the foreign national illegally sent hundreds of different rare wild plant species abroad, resulting in a significant loss of China's unique biological resources.

Global Times