A person who buys or eats endangered species may face criminal charges, according to a draft judicial interpretation being reviewed by the National People’s Congress, China Daily reported Tuesday.
According to the draft, which is scheduled to be reviewed this week by the NPC Standing Committee, anyone who buys a rare or endangered wild animal for eating or other illegal purpose and is aware of its protected status, will be punished in line with the Criminal Law, the newspaper said.
This is the first time that concrete rules have been proposed to prohibit the eating of endangered wildlife, which is a centuries-old tradition in many parts of the country, according to the report.
The criminal law stipulates that those who capture, kill, buy, transport or sell rare and endangered species and products made from the animals can be sentenced to no less than 10 years in jail in serious cases.
It also specifies that the sale of dishes containing protected wildlife at restaurants is illegal.
However, the law is vague on whether eating endangered animals is legal or not, said Li Shouwei, deputy head of the criminal law division under the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee.
According to the interpretation, paying for dishes made with protected wildlife at restaurants could be deemed as “buying products made from rare and endangered species”, Li was quoted as saying.
Around 420 animal species, including the panda and the armadillo-resembling pangolin, are on the country’s protected species list, the report said.
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