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Report: Africa ivory smuggled on China state visit

Published:Friday | November 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM

BEIJING (AP): Chinese officials and business people used a state trip by President Xi Jinping and other high-level visits to smuggle ivory out of Tanzania, an environmental watchdog said yesterday, casting doubt over Beijing's efforts to end the illegal trade that has led to rampant elephant poaching throughout Africa.

China is the world's largest importer of smuggled tusks, and Tanzania is the largest source of poached ivory, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said. Poaching in Tanzania alone has killed half of the country's elephants in the past five years, the group said in the report.

It said Chinese-led criminal gangs conspired with corrupt Tanzanian officials to traffic huge amounts of ivory, some of which was loaded in diplomatic bags on Xi's plane during a presidential visit in March 2013.