For the first time ever on the African continent, multilateral government organisations, Chinese companies, overseas Chinese associations, scholars and the media have gathered under one roof with the endeavour to resolve issues of habitat loss, human and wildlife conflict, poaching and illegal wildlife trade, while attracting greater Chinese involvement in wildlife conservation in Africa.
When speaking at the conference co-organized by the Africa-China Reporting Project at Wits University, in partnership with many Chinese organizations, Miles Nan, a co-organiser and Chairman of the Global Max Media Group based in Botswana, urged the Chinese in Africa to become wildlife conservation ambassadors. He said this is because as overseas Chinese in Africa, they need to respect local environmental laws and make a positive contribution to wildlife protection on the continent.
“Protecting wildlife and biodiversity, and protecting our common homeland are our common responsibilities. Wherever you are and I maybe, lets stand together in the fight against wildlife poaching, and illegal trade,” said Miles.
For success to be attained, he said there is a dire need to reach a consensus and encourage more countries and institutions to participate in the fight against illegal wildlife trade. This he said requires all stakeholders, including the general public to form a joint force.
His stance emanates from the fact that respecting nature and cherishing life is a constant ideal and aspiration in the Chinese culture.
“In the traditional Chinese culture, we believe in ‘unity of the universe and the human’. The essence of this idea is to view nature and mankind as a harmonious union, emphasizing a harmonious coexistence between the two,” said Lin Songtian, the Ambassador of China to South Africa, when delivering the keynote address, at the Africa-China Wildlife Conservation Conference on Thursday.
Lin’s words echo Chinese President Xi Jinping’s popular remarks that a sound ecological environment is the most equal public good, and offers the most universal public welfare. Xi is also known for stressing that man and nature form a community of life, that people must respect nature, follow the laws of nature, and protect nature.
“Upholding a harmonious coexistence between man and nature is an important part of China’s efforts in safeguarding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It is our active pursuit to build a beautiful China, and work towards a community with a shared future for mankind and towards a clean and beautiful world. So whatever is illegal back home, the Chinese in Africa should not think they can get away with it here in Africa,” said Lin.
This wildlife conference is said to have come at an opportune time, as this year is a special year in Africa-China relations. It comes at a time when the ban on ivory trade in mainland China has officially taken effect, a time when the BRICS Summit will be held in South Africa, and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in Beijing this September. The forum is expected to elevate Beijing’s involvement in Africa’s wildlife conservation initiatives to new levels.
China-Africa relations are not solely focused on economic issues but have also placed emphasis on wildlife conservation. To date, China has signed a memorandum of understanding with several African countries to strengthen wildlife protection.