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Blacklist targets smuggling of banned items
    The city’s border control authorities will blacklist people who intentionally bring in plants or animals that are banned, and people who do so several times a year, said the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.
    The blacklist, to take effect next month, targets people who bring in or mail to China twice or more a year invasive flora or fauna from overseas that are banned.
    People who intentionally conceal such plants or animals, or lie to officials, will also be blacklisted.
    Those who use violence or threaten officials, or thwart officials from conducting inspections, will be blacklisted.
    People who steal, snatch or destroy animals, plants or other items seized by quarantine authorities will also be blacklisted.
    The number of cases involving people bringing or mailing banned items into China had been rising, officials said.
    Last year, ports of entry across China blocked 1.22 million prospective entries of non-native species that were harmful, an increase of 16 percent from 2015. There were 6,305 kinds of such species last year, up 1.8 percent from 2015.
    In the first 11 months of this year, Shanghai’s border control authorities intercepted 59,046 batches of banned items, a rise of 34 percent from the same period last year.
    In the second half of this year, hazardous viruses from animals and pests were often found in travelers’ belongings — such as the bird flu virus, white spot syndrome virus, and the Mediterranean fruit fly which attacks fruit crops.
    Last year, more than 42 million travelers passed through Shanghai Pudong International Airport amid increased domestic and global demand for tourism.
    Officials said some travelers were not aware of China’s ban on various items, or ignored them, posing threats to public safety.
    Tourism and trade were the major channels for invasive flora or fauna to enter China, said the bureau.
    Offenders face a fine of up to 5,000 yuan (US$769) under the current regulations, but the amount was not a large enough deterrent, officials said. They added that law enforcement officials had been hobbled by that and the inadequate system of sharing information.
    Some offenders had prepared to pay fines of 5,000 yuan in the event that their banned items were discovered by quarantine officials.
    In recent years, offenders have become more audacious, as they stand to make hefty profits. Some have banded together into smuggling syndicates, increasing the likelihood that more banned flora and fauna would be smuggled into China.
    Offenders will be reported to Shanghai’s public credit information service platform, and they could be blacklisted for three years if their violations were serious, officials said. Serious offenders could also face criminal charges.
    Once blacklisted, offenders will have difficulties in obtaining bank loans and applying for financial subsidies. They will also be adversely affected in award selection and recruitment.