India to urge China to curb illegal trade in tigers

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India to urge China to curb illegal trade in tigers

Priscilla Jebaraj & Ananth Krishnan
Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010

Two delegations from New Delhi to hold talks in Beijing

The fourth India-China financial dialogue to be held after a 3-year hiatus

Mechanism to share information on wildlife crime to be discussed

NEW DELHI/BEIJING: Defence ties between India and China may be strained in the wake of the visa denial row, but the two countries hope next week will see increased cooperation in both wildlife conservation and global financial issues as two delegations from New Delhi travel to Beijing.

On Monday evening, a delegation from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the National Tiger Conservation Authority arrived in Beijing for a five-day visit, to urge Chinese counterparts to strengthen enforcement and curb illegal trade in tigers and other endangered big cats. Poaching in Indian forests is largely resorted to for meeting the raging demand for tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicine.

And, on Thursday, the fourth India-China financial dialogue will be held in Beijing after a three-year hiatus, during which the two countries will discuss coordinating their positions on the reforms of international financial institutions.

This week’s dialogue, Indian officials said, would underscore the expanding breadth of bilateral relationship. The talks come even as Indian and Chinese officials looked to play down renewed tensions following China’s decision to refuse a visa for the Army’s Northern Command chief, Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal. Officials in both Defence Ministries said military exchanges would go ahead, despite specific disagreements, as would other areas of engagement.

During the first ever round of talks on wildlife conservation and management that will take place this week, India will urge China to continue its ban on any internal trade in tiger parts. Beijing was reportedly considering the lifting of the ban under pressure from “tiger farm” owners. Wildlife experts say China has fewer than 20 tigers left in the wild, but almost 5,000 on these farms, which cater for tourists and want to cater for the demand for tiger parts as well.

There is a fear that lifting the ban will allow the sale of parts of poached wild tigers under the guise of parts from the farms.

Another item on the agenda will be a recent controversial move by China to register the skins of all big cats. While some have warned that this could also allow the trade in illegally poached animals under cover of legal trade, India is merely seeking more details for now. The two countries will also discuss ways to set up a mechanism to share information on wildlife crime, and coordinate enforcement efforts.

This week will also see the fourth round of the bilateral financial dialogue being held in Beijing, when Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla, along with officials from the Reserve Bank of India, meets Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao. The dialogue was set up following Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in 2005. The last round was held in December 2007.

The dialogue, officials said, would give both sides an important opportunity to exchange notes on the global financial situation, as well as their roles and objectives in reforming the international financial architecture.

On the agenda were coordination of tariff policies and macroeconomic policies, global financial regulatory reforms, as well as coordination of policies on multilateral fora such as the G20 and BRIC, they said.

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