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For the past 40 years, the Chinese government has promoted the wild animal trade as a form of rural economic development. But the industry ground to a halt this winter when it became clear that the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan originated in a “wet market” — where throngs of customers shop for live animals held in cramped quarters.
When this connection emerged in January, the government ordered a freeze on the sale and consumption of wild animals, which was stiffly enforced — 700 people were arrested for violations in the first two weeks of February. On February 24, the government initiated a permanent ban with a decree titled, “Comprehensively Prohibiting the Illegal Trade of Wild Animals, Eliminating the Bad Habits of Wild Animal Consumption, and Protecting the Health and Safety of the People.”
But will the ban simply drive a long-thriving trade underground? The ultimate solution, of course, is to reduce demand by changing cultural no... Read more