China continues to face challenges in ensuring biosafety against invasive species brought into the country, the top quarantine official said on Tuesday.
In 2017, foreign harmful species were intercepted almost 950,000 times by border officials at ports nationwide, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
The number of interceptions reached more than 1.2 million in 2016, a record high, and involved 6,305 kinds of species, official data show.
"We will step up efforts to ensure biosafety at the border, including improving safety inspections, strengthening the tracing of international plant and animal diseases and their analysis and management, and conducting continuous public education campaigns," Zhi Shuping, minister in charge of the administration, said at a work conference on Tuesday.
Huang Xiusheng, an official with the administration's Department for Supervision of Animal and Plant Quarantine, explained that globalization has been a major factor behind the rise in interceptions.
"Due to more frequent international exchanges and intensified globalization, especially the booming development of e-commerce, the number of interceptions of harmful species involving mailed parcels and carry-on luggage has increased quickly," he said.
"This has put a lot of pressure on entry-exit inspection and quarantine officers."
In recent years, entry-exit inspection and quarantine authorities across China have taken a number of measures, including adopting multiple types of machines such as X-rays and ultrared scanners, and using more dogs to help find harmful species and stop them from entering, Huang said.
Last year, authorities in Shanghai started to blacklist passengers who attempt to carry prohibited items into China twice within a 12-month period, he said.
The Guangdong Provincial Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau also introduced eight robots at a port in Guangzhou to aid officers in law enforcement.
The robots are able to detect prohibited plant and animal products that need to be stored at low temperatures, according to Shi Zongwei, director of the bureau.