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Since China enacted the Wildlife Protection Law in 1988, its wildlife has been threatened with the most serious survival crisis. In the prereform era, wildlife was a neglected policy area. Serving the objective of reform, the Wildlife Protection Law upholds the “protection, domestication, and utilization” norm inherited from past policies. It establishes rules for wildlife management and protection. This law provides for penalties against violations. Yet, its ambiguous objectives, limited protection scope, and decentralized responsibilities have made its enforcement difficult. Political factors such as institutional constraints, national obsession with economic growth, shortage of funding, and local protectionism have made the Wildlife Protection Law enforcement an uphill struggle. This study calls for a revision in the Wildlife Protection Law to drop the “protection for human use” objective, expand protection scope, introduce anticruelty provisions, and nationalize protection responsibilities. Understanding that the current one-party state will continue in the foreseeable future, this article calls for moves to open up China’s policymaking to advocacy groups. China’s wildlife crisis requires both short-term legislative and long-term political solutions.


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