An official has now been identified in the pictures uploaded by a Hong Kong businessman on social media on Monday for reportedly serving guests with a pangolin banquet in 2015, the communist party’s disciplinary commission in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region said.
Li Ning, former director-general of the United Front Work Department at Guangxi College Working Committee, joined a private banquet with some Hong Kong businessmen after they completed a three-day tour of Nanning in July 2015, the anti-graft body told CCTV on Wednesday. Li has been arrested in May 2016 for taking bribes, it said.
It is illegal to eat pangolin under Chinese law. Officials who serve the State Category II protected species would also violate the party’s anti-extravagance rules launched by President Xi Jinping in 2012.
All of the six species of pangolin found in Asia and Africa were last year afforded the highest level of legal protection under CITES, the global regime to control the trade in wildlife. The new rules that came into effect this year ban all commercial trade in specimens taken from the wild.
No staff from Guangxi Investment Promotion Bureau attended the banquet, it said, adding that whether the participants in the banquet ate pangolin is still under investigation.
Hong Kong business Calvin Lee Ka-wo, son of Hong Kong watchmaker David Lee Fook-sang, posted pictures on weibo saying that he was served pangolin by two Guangxi officials surnamed Li and Huang in 2015. The pictures went viral on Monday.