Billionaire lawmaker urges legislation against shark fin trading

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A Chinese lawmaker has proposed that the country's top legislature ban the trade of shark fin, a high-end delicacy consumed by wealthy people in China and East Asia.

Shark-fin trading generates enormous profits, but encourages overfishing and brutal slaughter of sharks, of which some 30 species are near extinction, said Ding Liguo, deputy to the National People's Congress, the top legislature.

He has filed a formal written proposal to the legislature, together with a dozen of other lawmakers.

China is now the biggest market of shark fin, consuming 95 percent of the world's total with Taiwan, Hong Kong counted, said Ding Wednesday, a billionaire and executive chairman of Delong Holdings Limited, at a panel discussion of the ongoing parliament session.

Shark fin soup has become an essential part of any respectable banquet in China over the years. And there are no laws in China banning shark fin trading, he said, adding publicity campaign against shark fin consumption has had limited impact.

"Only legislation can stop shark fin trading and reduce the killings of sharks," Ding said, adding China should take the lead in banning the trade.

Fin trade encourages shark-finning, a practice in which the fins are typically cut off while the shark is still alive. The shark then dies a slow death.

Shark fins are used to make a soup that is a high-end staple on the menu of most upscale restaurants. Many of them make the delicacy a signiture dish to lure customers, as Chinese culture has lauded shark fins to boost virility and enhance skin quality.

Further, shark fin soup represents wealth, prestige and honor as the gourment food was coveted by emperors in China's Ming Dynasty because it was rare, delicious and required elaborate preparation.

With both culinary and symbolic significance, the dish is popular at important occasions such as weddings, banquets and important business deals.

Treat with this Chinese cuisine is a show of respect, honor and appreciation to the guests. Ordinary people normally can't afford to have the dish.

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