“International pressure from African countries, from European countries and ultimately from the US was intense and directly led to China adopting a total ban,” says Ji Wei, an independent wildlife researcher who worked with the government on the ivory ban. The ban met opposition within the government, with the State Forestry Administration arguing that complete prohibition was unnecessary. “[It] argued that from a business standpoint, wild animals are the same as natural resources and they can be used sustainably,” says Zhang Li, an elephant protection expert at Beijing Normal University, who consulted the government on the ban. The idea was that “foreign animals don’t matter”, Zhang says. –The Guardian/
Fun Fact: China actually used to have its own species of elephant, but – ironically enough – it has been extinct for more than two millennia. Ivory was used to carve statues of deities and medallions with garden scenes, which were coveted by court officials during the imperial era.