Editor’s Note: Trade in endangered species and their products is strictly controlled by the Chinese goverment, however due to practical limits on the government’s reach and ability to enforce such laws, the trade continues to thrive. A Netizen recently discovered a Weibo post in which a user, Weibo handle @Ah_cal, claimed to have been invited to the offices of the Guangxi Investment Promotion Bureau to eat stewed pangolin. While some Netizens are in an uproar, sources from the organization say the claims aren’t true. What really happened here? You decide.
A Weibo post from July of 2015 titled, “Guangxi Official Invited Me to Eat Pangolin”, has recently resurfaced and has attracted widespread attention from Netizens. There is currently ample speculation as to the identity behind the Weibo poster in question.
Netizens have been circulating a screenshot of the 2015 post in which a user name @Ah_cal states that he was invited by the Director Li of the Investment Promotion Bureau and a secretary of the same organization, Mr. Huang, to eat stewed pangolin while doing inspections there. In regards to the incident @Ah_cal wrote in the post: “This is my first time eating pangolin, its delicious! I’m already in love with it’s gamey taste!”
Old News, New Discovery
Interviews with the Netizen that first found the post revealed that they had randomly discovered it while looking at a post about another incident involving pangolin. The Netizen expressed that they enjoyed reading through comments sections, which led them to this post from 2015. Outraged, the Netizen ‘re-Weiboed’ the post @Bureau of Forestry, @China Scenic (@博物), @Guokr.com (@果壳网) and other relevant outlets. After Guokr reposted, hoardes of Netizens saw the post and it was disseminated across the internet.
It wasn’t long before some Netizens guessed that the Secretary Huang in the picture was none other than Huang Wenbiao of the Guangxi Investment Promotion Bureau.
On February 7th, in a phone interview with a reporter from Chengdu Economic Daily, Secretary Huang said of the incident, “The person in the picture cannot possibly be me. I was in Singapore at the time.”
Hearsay and Rumor or Undeniable Fact?
The Guangxi Investment Promotion Bureau says that from July 8th to July 10th 2015, the Bureau was in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi, for an investment conference with Hong Kong investors. They also stated that from 2004 until July 7th 2015 no one with the last names of either Li or Huang had any leadership roles in the organization and that the currently appointed secretary Mr. Huang was in Singapore undergoing training from July 6th-17th 2015. He wasn’t appointed to his current position until the 21st, and it wasn’t until August 10th that he finally reported for duty.
Guangixi Daily also states that, “After through investigation of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region’s Investment Promotion Bureau, it has been found that none of the people in the picture are leaders in the organization.”
In a February 7th broadcast from China National Radio, Mr. Li, an official responsible for the bureau’s public relations said, “We have tried to identify both Director Li and Secretary Huang from the photo, however none of the people pictured are either employees or leaders of the Guangxi Investment Promotion Bureau.” He repeated that, “Furthermore, from the time we were founded in 2004 until July 20th 2015, no one surnamed Li or Huang had any leadership position in the bureau.”
During the same report, the aforementioned Mr. Li ensured those following the issue that the bureau is taking every measure possible to get to the bottom of the issue. “We are taking this issue very seriously. After becoming aware yesterday of the picture being circulated online, meetings were immediately called to examine the post.”
Illegal or In Poor Taste?
Guangxi Daily reports that the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Department of Forestry has launched an investigation into the incident according to the Wildlife Protection Act and will probe whether there have been any legal infractions in relation to the case.
The National Bureau of Forestry also responded via Weibo that Regulation 30 of the People’s Republic of China Wildlife Protection Act outlines the illegality of using any endangered species or their by-products for food. If the claims in the Weibo post are verified, the people involved would bear full legal responsibility for their actions.
According to The Communist Party’s Regulations Regarding the Reception of Guests, Section 10, It is standard procedure for a host to arrange one ‘working meal’ for a guest and the number of people allowed to attend is also striclty controlled. During such occasions, only everyday foods should be provided for the guests and under no circumstances are dishes such as shark’s fin soup, bird’s nest soup or any dish utilizing any products of protected species to be ordered.
In 2014 an official from Zhejiang Province named Wang Xiaozhou was punished when he and friends invited guests to a meal--among the dishes ordered was pangolin.
There are eight species of pangolin, four of which, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are listed as “vulnerable”, two of which are “endangered” and two of which are listed as “critically endangered”. The species in question, the Chinese Pangolin, is of the latter category. Estimates are that only 50-100,000 are left in the wild as of 2002--an 88.88-94.12% drop from the 1960s. I hope its just 88.88%, at least that’s a lucky number in China.
Source: QQ News
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