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China Rejects Greenpeace Accusations Over Timber Imports


The Chinese government has rejected allegations by environmental organization Greenpeace that rising demand for cheap Chinese-made furniture overseas is fueling illegal logging activities and destroying endangered forests in the Asia-Pacific region.

Greenpeace on Tuesday called on the Chinese government to ban imports of illegally and destructively logged wood.

Greenpeace says China is now the world's largest importer of tropical wood, much of which comes from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea where, the group says, more than 75 percent of logging is illegal.

The group warns that lowland rain forest areas in Indonesia could disappear within 10 years if consumption levels are not reduced.

The environmental organization says China's consumption of wood products has increased by 70 percent in the last 10 years.

"Over the last 10 years, of two additional trees felled globally, one went to meet the rising consumption in China," said Shi Peng Xiang, the deputy campaign director for Greenpeace China. Shi said most wood products exported from China, such as construction materials and furniture, are destined for Japan and Western countries.

But China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday Beijing should not be singled out for blame over illegal logging. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said illegal logging is a global issue, and that China has consistently opposed destructive logging and has vigorously fought against it.

The Chinese government has recently made some effort to reduce wood consumption. Beijing last week announced a five percent tax on hardwood flooring and disposable chopsticks.

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