Imports of live donkeys from Kyrgyzstan to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region more than doubled in Q1, port figures show.
From January to March, 8,000 live donkeys were imported to Xinjiang, about 2.1 times the number in Q1 last year.
Irkeshtam port in Xinjiang began handling imports of live donkeys from Kyrgyzstan in August 2016. A total of 27,000 donkeys have since been imported.
The increase is driven by demand for donkey hides used to make ejiao, a kind of gelatin used in traditional Chinese medicine.
About 90 percent of China's ejiao products are made in Shandong Province, which mainly imports donkey hides from Peru, Mexico and Egypt.
With a history of around 2,500 years, ejiao is made by soaking and stewing donkey skin and refining the results into a supposed remedy for a wide range of ailments.
It has been extensively rebranded as a healthcare product used as an additive and in cosmetics.