China's traditional medicine expands in Africa

S
stenews
Mon, Nov 22, 2021 10:23 PM

China's traditional medicine expands in Africa
David Klein, The Namibian
November 22, 2021

The traditional Chinese medicine industry has long been one of the major
drivers of poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Africa, but according to
a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, its markets are
getting closer and closer to its sources and Beijing may be to blame.

“The Chinese government has been ramping up its expansion of traditional
Chinese medicine (TCM) in Africa as a key part of its controversial Belt
and Road Initiative,” the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) report
said, referring to China's global infrastructure development strategy to
invest in nearly 70 countries, as part of its goal to assume a greater
leadership role in the world.

“Major TCM companies and countless clinics have already been established
across Africa, with further plans to construct full supply chains from
sourcing to sales,” it said.

TCM refers to a broad range of folk remedies and treatments. They include
everything from herbal teas to acupuncture and massage therapies, but a
small number of treatments rely on products made pangolin scales, rhino
horn and ivory.

“While only a small portion of TCM formulas use animal ingredients, the
sheer size of the consumer base has made consumption of TCM a significant
cause for the decline of species including tigers, leopards, pangolins and
rhinoceroses,” EIA said.

“As TCM expands in Africa, it could potentially change wildlife consumption
patterns of local populations and exacerbate the pressure on these species
and others.”

In addition to its infrastructure projects, folk medicine has been one of
the key forms of soft power pushed by Beijing in their 2016-2030 national
strategy to grow their influence around the world.

According to the EIA, some 2 000 TCM practitioners are operating across 45
countries in Africa and their spread has been supported by Chinese foreign
policy initiatives.

For example, the 2019-2021 action plan of the Forum on China-Africa
Cooperation, which brings together 53 out of 54 countries on the continent,
included plans to support the collaboration and exchange between
practitioners of TCM and traditional African medicines (TAfM).

That could be big money for organised criminal groups and wildlife
traffickers, who are already seeing big returns from the east-Asian and
American markets.

There is considerable risk that traditional Chinese medicine expansion
under the Belt and Road Initiative could exacerbate the involvement of
criminal networks in wildlife trafficking in Africa, the EIA report said.

Transnational criminal syndicates and traditional Chinese medicine traders
can exploit vulnerabilities in African countries, such as corruption and
lack of law enforcement, to facilitate wildlife trafficking and other
illicit activities.

The TCM industry in China itself has already put a serious strain on many
different types of flora and fauna across Africa. Its local growth could
put many species at risk of extinction.

“The risk to African flora and fauna is further exacerbated by the fact
that there are key overlaps in the plant and animal species used in TAfM
and TCM,” EIA explained.

“Such interlinkages could make relatively unexploited and less expensive
African species attractive to the TCM industry, resulting in their
exploitation by profit-driven TCM traders and pharmaceutical companies,” it
said.

As TCM expands in Africa, the EIA is already seeing some of the same
traders begin to market traditional African medicine products in Asia as
well.

“Some traders in China are already marketing TAfM ingredients, such as
moringa seeds and yohimbe bark sourced in Africa, as health supplements,”
said the report.

“This points to a clear money-making opportunity at the TAfM-TCM nexus.
Without essential safeguarding regulations in place, the exploitation of
African wildlife and plants could quickly outstrip their populations in
order to feed the expanding global demand for TCM,” the report warned.

– Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

https://www.namibian.com.na/107568/read/Chinas-traditional-medicine-expands-in-Africa

China's traditional medicine expands in Africa David Klein, The Namibian November 22, 2021 The traditional Chinese medicine industry has long been one of the major drivers of poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Africa, but according to a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, its markets are getting closer and closer to its sources and Beijing may be to blame. “The Chinese government has been ramping up its expansion of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in Africa as a key part of its controversial Belt and Road Initiative,” the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) report said, referring to China's global infrastructure development strategy to invest in nearly 70 countries, as part of its goal to assume a greater leadership role in the world. “Major TCM companies and countless clinics have already been established across Africa, with further plans to construct full supply chains from sourcing to sales,” it said. TCM refers to a broad range of folk remedies and treatments. They include everything from herbal teas to acupuncture and massage therapies, but a small number of treatments rely on products made pangolin scales, rhino horn and ivory. “While only a small portion of TCM formulas use animal ingredients, the sheer size of the consumer base has made consumption of TCM a significant cause for the decline of species including tigers, leopards, pangolins and rhinoceroses,” EIA said. “As TCM expands in Africa, it could potentially change wildlife consumption patterns of local populations and exacerbate the pressure on these species and others.” In addition to its infrastructure projects, folk medicine has been one of the key forms of soft power pushed by Beijing in their 2016-2030 national strategy to grow their influence around the world. According to the EIA, some 2 000 TCM practitioners are operating across 45 countries in Africa and their spread has been supported by Chinese foreign policy initiatives. For example, the 2019-2021 action plan of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which brings together 53 out of 54 countries on the continent, included plans to support the collaboration and exchange between practitioners of TCM and traditional African medicines (TAfM). That could be big money for organised criminal groups and wildlife traffickers, who are already seeing big returns from the east-Asian and American markets. There is considerable risk that traditional Chinese medicine expansion under the Belt and Road Initiative could exacerbate the involvement of criminal networks in wildlife trafficking in Africa, the EIA report said. Transnational criminal syndicates and traditional Chinese medicine traders can exploit vulnerabilities in African countries, such as corruption and lack of law enforcement, to facilitate wildlife trafficking and other illicit activities. The TCM industry in China itself has already put a serious strain on many different types of flora and fauna across Africa. Its local growth could put many species at risk of extinction. “The risk to African flora and fauna is further exacerbated by the fact that there are key overlaps in the plant and animal species used in TAfM and TCM,” EIA explained. “Such interlinkages could make relatively unexploited and less expensive African species attractive to the TCM industry, resulting in their exploitation by profit-driven TCM traders and pharmaceutical companies,” it said. As TCM expands in Africa, the EIA is already seeing some of the same traders begin to market traditional African medicine products in Asia as well. “Some traders in China are already marketing TAfM ingredients, such as moringa seeds and yohimbe bark sourced in Africa, as health supplements,” said the report. “This points to a clear money-making opportunity at the TAfM-TCM nexus. Without essential safeguarding regulations in place, the exploitation of African wildlife and plants could quickly outstrip their populations in order to feed the expanding global demand for TCM,” the report warned. – Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. https://www.namibian.com.na/107568/read/Chinas-traditional-medicine-expands-in-Africa