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China's Logistics Industry Faces Influx of Smuggling

China is struggling to combat illegal imports which smugglers conceal in mass freight as the country's logistics industry booms.

Most recently, police dumped a large batch of smuggled goods in a landfill in Nanning, capital of south China' s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Around 200 tonnes of items were destroyed, including frozen chicken and beef.

China had 754 distribution parks in 2012, and the logistics industry is on the rise, partly thanks to a low access threshold.

In Guangxi's Dongxing City, which has a population of only about 100,000, there are 89 logistics companies legally in operation. Dongxing is located on the China-Vietnam border, adjacent to the Vietnamese city of Mong Cai.

Staff in the city’s anti-smuggling office says that it is difficult to fully supervise these companies, and this means a risk of smuggling almost anything, from chemical compounds to frozen meat.

"They hide the contraband in seemingly normal mass freight, so it is hard to spot," said a staff member.

Gao Jianping, captain of the anti-drug brigade with Dongxing's public security bureau, said that earlier this year his team found a van loaded with 20 tons of smuggled frozen chicken feet produced in various places around the world. These kinds of products bring quite a risk to the Chinese market, as they do not go through any inspection or quarantine process and could contain a lot of bacteria. The driver seemed completely unaware of what he was transporting, and the boss of the logistics company did not know what was in the freight. The goods had not been checked when they were loaded, according to Gao.

Guangxi is not the only place in the country to have fallen victim to this kind of smuggling. In 2011, police in the southeastern province of Fujian found a large quantity of ephedrine among a cargo of old cotton. This led to the exposure of an illegal logistics chain that transported ephedrine from Vietnam to Fujian to make drugs.

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