Communist China has delivered on its warning against imported Australian rock lobsters after declaring the tasty marine crustaceans a “national security threat.”
Hong Kong customs officers grabbed nearly 900 kilograms of the sought after marine delicacy on a speedboat on Monday night, desperate to stop any furtive imports that go against Beijing’s orders.
AFP reports around 890 kilograms of live lobsters and another 930 kilograms of sea cucumbers were found on a twin-engined launch trying to leave harbour on the south of Hong Kong Island under cover of darkness.
According to Lui Siu-fai, a divisional commander with the city’s customs department, crack Chinese anti-lobster patrols were responsible for the seizure. The origins of the haul are still under investigation, he told a press briefing on Tuesday.
The city’s customs chief last month dubbed smuggled Australian lobsters “a national security threat” vowing to crack down on the trade, as Breitbart News reported.
Lobster has long been regarded as a treat in China and Australia has been a favored source of the delicacy for decades.
That all changed when Beijing restricted imports as relations between the countries plunged after the government turned on Australia because it dared to publicly state the coronavirus was first spread in Wuhan wet markets.
Canberra also took on the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) for its stumbling response in the early days of the global pandemic.
Australia confronted the World Health Organization over claims it supports so-called wet markets reopening in the Chinese city of Wuhan. https://t.co/KH1KxRXxvv
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) April 15, 2020
Since Beijing’s unofficial ban took effect in October last year, exports of Australian lobsters to Hong Kong have soared — from a total monthly value of U.S.$426,000 to a peak of more than U.S.$19 million in June this year, data from Australia’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation showed.
AFP reports from July to September, Hong Kong and mainland authorities seized 5,300 kilograms of smuggled Australian lobsters, worth around US$540,000, arresting 13 people.
Last month, 228 tonnes of smuggled Australian lobsters with an estimated market value of US$23.1 million were seized from raids of several importers in Hong Kong, and seven men were arrested.