CORRESPONDENCE

COVID-19: ban ‘orientalism’ by critics of wildlife trade

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China.
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Western voices claim that China needs “to discredit engrained cultural beliefs” to make the country’s ban on wildlife trade workable (see J. Ribeiro et al. Nature 578, 217; 2020). This stereotyped perception of Chinese society disregards the country’s huge support for the ban, thanks to efforts by conservationists and the government, as well as evidence that traditional wild-meat consumption is in decline — particularly in the young and in large urban areas (see, for example, go.nature.com/3d8za5i and go.nature.com/33qglzs; in Chinese).

Ribeiro and colleagues’ perception of archaic beliefs that are grounded in agricultural–pastoral societies is misplaced. Efficient policies aiming to decrease wildlife trade should involve law enforcement and reduction of both supply and demand. Comments on policies and cultural beliefs, particularly when these are made from high-income to low- or middle-income countries, should be more respectful of cultural diversity. A ban on orientalism is long overdue.

Nature 579, 497 (2020)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00870-3

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