China's need for timber is depriving the tiny South American country – Suriname, of its forest resources. Even though Suriname is losing its trees to China, the profits are going elsewhere.
In a video report for German news agency DW, Carl Holm uncovered the illegal timber online business run by China. He says that more than half of the logging concessions for timber are with Chinese companies and their sales are hard to keep track as these are sold online.
Environmental NGO, ProBios, helped DW in the investigation of illegal logging. Holm says that the rich and dense rainforests in the country are getting depleted but Suriname is not making any money. "… Suriname is not seeing any economic benefit as more than half of the logging is illegal. Suriname is estimated to lose Euro 100 million a year due to illegal logging. The money goes straight to the coffers of criminal cartels," says Holm.
The authorities are stymied by two major hurdles – corruption and the vastness of the rainforests. Illegal cutting down of trees is almost difficult to detect despite the use of satellite images and drones. Even if they discover illegal logging, widespread corruption ensures that nothing happens.
Angelic del Castilho, Suriname opposition politician told DW: "The concession holders – the people who cut and ship the wood, the people who carried out inspections here at the port, they are all involved in the chain of illegalities."
Something similar is happening in neighbouring Venezuela. Earlier this year, independent journalism platform Diálogo Chino found that China had swindled the Latam country of US $4.176 billion worth of iron ore by buying it for just $1 billion. Beijing did it by manipulating mining contracts with Venezuela and also not by honouring its part of the deal in the contracts.