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NBA Star Yao Ming Swears off Shark Fin Soup 'Under All Circumstances'

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BEIJING, China -- NBA star Yao Ming pledged Wednesday to give up eating shark's fin soup, a Chinese delicacy, as he joined a campaign to promote wildlife protection.

"I pledge to stop eating sharks fin soup and will not do so under all circumstances," Yao said.

"Endangered species are our friends," Yao said at a news conference organized by the London-based conservation group WildAid.

The group said China is the world's biggest importer of shark's fins, which conservationists say are cut from sharks that are thrown back into the ocean to die.

"As the human population increases, many wildlife species are decreasing, and the primary reason is that humans fail to treat animals as friends," said Yao, who played for the Shanghai Sharks basketball team before moving to the Houston Rockets.

WildAid cited U.N. estimates that more than 100 million sharks are caught annually for fins and other body parts.

"China alone can save the sharks," said Steve Trent, president of WildAid. "If sharks are to survive we need to see a decline in shark fin consumption and new actions by government to control imports and consumption."

Accurate figures on China's shark-fin imports are hard to obtain because of poor monitoring, conservationists say.

Hong Kong imported 11,662 tons of dried shark fin in 2003, most of which were shipped to mainland China, according to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring group.

Yao also is to appear in a conservation advertising campaign for wildlife other than sharks.

A television commercial shown at Yao's news conference features the 2.16-meter (7-foot-1) center jumping up from a basketball court to block a bullet fired at an elephant.

The commercial will be shown on Chinese state television and other broadcasters, WildAid said.

Gymast Li Ning, an Olympic gold medalist, and musician Liu Huan signed a petition with Yao for wildlife protection.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

4 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

Here in China, Yao Ming is all over the McDonald's. Pictures. Posters. Promotions. He is worshipped by Chinese youth. How would you compare his contribution to the effort of saving sharks to the damage to the health of millions of children? "'Yao Ming personifies what the McDonald's brand is all about -- a youthful, fun, dynamic spirit which connects to today's customers and cultures,' said Larry Light, McDonald's Executive Vice-President and Global Chief Marketing Officer."
   comment# 1   - Marcus Cao · Hong Kong · Apr 25, 2007 @ 7:30am

Just because he may be doing one thing that is not in the best interest of people who chose to eat a poor diet or make bad choices for their children does not diminish the enormous good he has done for the advocacy of sharks. Shark finning is horrific. Many shark species are threatened now. Hundreds of thousands are killed each year in a very barbaric manner. I am grateful to Yao Ming for taking that stand. And now companies are trying to come up with alternatives.
   comment# 2   - Alexi Holford · Long Beach, California · Oct 29, 2007 @ 3:00pm

If it was not clear, my comment was largely in response to Marcus Cao's comment above mine.
   comment# 3   - Alexi Holford · Long Beach, California · Nov 16, 2007 @ 6:33pm

Good job, Yao! Shark fin soup is absolutely an abhorrent practice and needs to be banned internationally, with extremely harsh penalties implemented. I would say fifteen to twenty for first infraction.
   comment# 4   - Neil Brookins · Portland, Oregon USA · Jul 2, 2010 @ 11:21am
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