China cracks down on tourists “smuggling” seafood

The seizure of grey mullet fish and mullet eggs from a Chinese tourist has sparked a crackdown on passengers arriving to Chinese airports following the annual October holiday.

A circular dispatched jointly this week from the Ministry of Agriculture and AQSIQ has warned Chinese tourists against bringing live and packaged seafood illegally into China. This follows the seizure at Tianjin airport from a passenger arriving from Taiwan whose luggage revealed a 300-gram box of eggs harvested from mullets, purchased during a vacation in Taiwan.

The seizures cast light on two evolving trends in China: the continuous surge in outbound tourism, which has seen Chinese nationals become the world’s biggest source of tourist spending – and also the quest among Chinese consumers for functional foods, including seafood. The passenger searched in Tianjin, who is unnamed in an AQSIQ statement, bought the mullet for “nutritional” and “medicinal” purposes.

Checks on tourists’ luggage have been ramped up at Chinese airports since early 2015 in a crackdown on tourists taking large quantities of luxury goods into the country for resale. Chinese tourists tend to travel in large numbers during Chinese festivals such as the just-completed ‘Golden Week’ that starts on 1 October, China’s national day.


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