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10 Things to Know about China’s Hongmu Imports Since 2017: A Briefing for the 18th CITES COP

By Naomi Basik Treanor
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In October 2016, the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) listed over 300 species of rosewood (a subset of which are known as hongmu in Chinese) at the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP17, Johannesburg). Hongmu is identified by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime as the world’s most-trafficked wild harvested product and has been linked to violations of producer country laws, violent conflict, funding of terrorist groups, destruction of complex ecosystems, and marginalization of indigenous and local communities. The trade in hongmu jumped more than 17-fold between 2009 and 2014, driven primarily by Chinese consumption. This brief outlines major findings concerning how the 2016 CITES listings have impacted China’s trade in hongmu. The listings have not, in and of themselves, been effective at curbing China’s consumption of the world’s fast-diminishing hongmu species. At the 18th CITES COP, to be held from August 17-28 2019 in Geneva, Parties to the Convention are meeting to discuss adopting guidelines on the verification of legal acquisition of CITES species.