China deports ‘black hand’ foreigner over theft of thousands of wild plants

China has deported a foreigner for gathering protected plants, warning that external forces had infringed the country’s ecological security.

In a post on its WeChat account on Saturday, the Ministry of State Security said the foreigner “illegally excavated and collected” China’s key protected plant species.

“The foreigner was instructed by an overseas organisation to illegally dig up and collect specimens and seed samples of thousands of wild plant species, and transported them abroad through illegal channels nearly 2,000 times,” the ministry said.

“The state security agency has expelled him/her in accordance with the law, successfully cutting off the ‘black hand’ of foreign forces that infringed on China’s ecological security.”


Rare ‘butterfly explosion’ seen in China’s biodiverse southwestern Yunnan province

Rare ‘butterfly explosion’ seen in China’s biodiverse southwestern Yunnan province

The ministry did not say the name or nationality of the defendant or identify the plants taken.

But it said the offender travelled to “dozens of reserves and scenic areas” in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces from 2011 in an operation that lasted nine years.

It also did not specify which law the foreigner broke but cited the country’s counter-espionage law, saying that “stealing, spying on, purchasing, and illegally providing” the “foregoing documents, data, materials, or items”, were all acts of espionage.

The provision is one of the expanded parts of the amended law that came into effect in July.

Before the amendment, espionage was defined as stealing, spying, buying, or illegally providing “state secrets or intelligence”.

But it has since been widened to say that all documents, data, materials, and items related to national security and interests have the same protection as state secrets and intelligence.

The ministry also cited the country’s regulations on the import and export of endangered wild fauna and flora, as well as regulations on nature reserves.

Citing the nature reserve regulations, the ministry said “foreigners entering a nature reserve shall be approved in advance by the nature reserve management organ” and must not “engage in [unapproved] activities such as collecting specimens in nature reserves”.

Under new law, China is ‘encouraging citizens to spy on each other’, US says

China is one of only a few “mega biodiverse” countries in the world. Since 1956, it has established close to 10,000 protected areas of all types and at all levels, accounting for about 18 per cent of its total land area, according to the 2021 State Council white paper “Biodiversity Conservation in China”.

In 2022, the United Nations biodiversity negotiations, which were originally scheduled to be held in Kunming, Yunnan province, moved to Montreal amid Beijing’s pandemic control measures.

Still retaining Kunming as one of the hosts, the conference in Montreal culminated in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, a global biodiversity action programme.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.