China's General Administration of Customs (GAC) has begun implementing a border control regimen called “National Sword” or “Border-gate Sword,” which the GAC says will take place throughout 2017 and is designed to crack down on smuggling and the importing of “foreign waste.”
Steve Wong, chairman of Hong Kong-based Fukutomi Co. Ltd. and a member of the Plastics Committee of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), says the GAC “convened a meeting in Beijing on Feb. 7, 2017, and decided to launch a one-year campaign for 2017.”
Wong describes the campaign as “aiming at the crackdown of smuggling on five focused areas, which includes plastic ‘waste.’ The campaign is named Border-gate Sword 2017, translated by some as National Sword 2017."
As of late February, according to Wong, “Nationwide action has been carried out by the GAC [at] ports in Guangdong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Huangpu, Qingdao, Tianjin, Ningbo, Shanghai and Nanjing.” He continues, “This crackdown has so far resulted in 15 smuggling operations being exposed, the arrest of 90 suspects and confiscation of 22,100 tons of ‘foreign waste,’” Wong says these shipments have included electronic scrap, plastic scrap and mixed household waste and recyclables.
Wong says “compared with ‘Operation Green Fence’ [in 2012 and 2013], the market is less panicked this time, due to the fact that market players are more disciplined than years ago.”
However, Wong also has shared with fellow BIR members the type of correspondence with GAC that Fukutomi is encountering as it ships materials from Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China. In that correspondence, the GAC and another agency are seeking details on recycled resin compositions, processing methods, country of origin of the scrap materials and the nature of the end product to be made from the plastic regrinds.
Thus, Wong says of National Sword, “Impacts are anticipated as more Customs checks will be exercised, which means time and cost.”
The GAC news release announcing National Sword states, “The National Sword 2017 joint action is focused on five areas of smuggling problems, with crackdown and remedial actions to be taken out, including an unrelenting crackdown on ‘foreign waste’ smuggling, including [a] focused crackdown for smuggling and illicit activities on solid waste [to include] industrial waste, E-waste, household waste and plastic waste.”
The GAC also says it will seek “active cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and relevant departments to intercept ‘foreign waste’ from border gates in order to maintain ecological safety and public health.”