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US, China Step Up Fight Against Wildlife Trafficking

Items made from pangolins are displayed during a press preview of confiscated wildlife contraband at the State Department in Washington during the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, June 24, 2015.

U.S. and Chinese officials have met on the margins of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington to discuss ways to broaden cooperation in fighting illegal wildlife trafficking.

Officials agreed to work together on public awareness campaigns and step up law enforcement. And for the first time, they focused on ways to combat the trafficking of marine species.

Undersecretary of State Catherine Novelli said the United States and China are two of the world’s biggest markets for illegal wildlife. “This illicit trade is really about, not just about individual collectors. It is also fueling a million — a multibillion-dollar illegal enterprise which is supporting transnational crime,” she said.

China’s state forestry administrator, Zhao Shucong, said his country had adopted a "zero tolerance" position on illegal wildlife trade. He said he hoped efforts to fight this crime would become a “global event.”

To illustrate the extent of the crime, U.S. officials displayed animal skins, rhino horns, reptiles and other items — many of them seized at U.S. airports.