In a world where everything is offensive, everything is political, and everybody in America hates everybody else, just about the only non-polarizing comment someone can safely make is that we’re all very polarized. So when different sides can agree on an issue, it’s a delightful moment of unity where we can all pause, take a breath, and remember we’re all on the same side.
Such is the case with a bipartisan resolution introduced this week in the House of Representatives urging China to maintain its ban on the harvest and sale of rhino and tiger parts. This is a great move that Congress should quickly approve in its lame-duck session.
Rhinoceros and tiger body parts have medicinal and healing properties, according to apocryphal Chinese beliefs, which has created enormous demand in the newly cash-rich Chinese markets to poach the animals in Africa and Asia, where illicit trade runs rampant and international protections are weak. These noble beasts have been endangered for years and poaching could destroy them forever.
More than that, transnational criminal and terrorist organizations include poaching to supplement their income from selling arms, drugs, and even people. Wildlife trafficking is one of the world’s largest transnational crimes with an estimated $20 billion in illegal profits reaped a year.
This resolution shouldn’t be necessary, but for recent actions by the Chinese government. Since 1993, China’s State Council has honored the endangered status of both rhinoceros and tigers and banned the sale, purchase, use, and import of body parts — notably their horns and bones, respectively.
But in October, China showed signs it would allow exceptions in the case of “medical and scientific research,” which could open the door for just about anything. (Baldness and male sexual potency could easily fit in that category.) International conservation groups responded, so China announced they would postpone lifting the ban. The New York Times described this as a “rare concession” from Beijing, and the situation looks even better now that the U.S. government is adding its voice to the choir.
The resolution also stipulates the need to reduce demand in Asian markets, work with global partners to combat transnational-criminal organizations, and condemn any farming of rhinoceros and tigers. It bolsters support for U.S. government agencies to fight poaching and trafficking wildlife.
Poaching isn’t the only way international criminal organizations have gotten creative with their, for lack of a better term, product line of illegal commerce: illegal logging of forests from the Amazon to the Russian Far East is a thriving $10 to $15 billion a year trade. The problem is particularly bad in Cambodia, where China is feeding its appetite for luxury furniture. This makes creating a united front with China against criminal environmental abuse even more important.
The resolution was introduced by Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ed Royce (R-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and has received endorsements from The World Wildlife Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund. Not every day a group of mostly Republicans gets a thumbs up from these groups.
Conservatives and liberals have always been champions of national security and environmentalism respectively. This resolution is a great way for both sides to make a difference for their traditional portfolio of issues, working together for a better world, and the ban on trafficking tiger and rhino parts gives the Administration more ammunition to put pressure on China in its ongoing trade negotiations. With bipartisan unity behind it, this resolution gives Trump another way to grab the Chinese Tiger by the tail. Just so everyone else keeps their hands off the tigers’ bones.
Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House, and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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