A Chinese forestry official confirmed to Xinhua on Wednesday that the country had no intention of easing its 13-year-old ban on the trade of tiger bones which are highly valued for use in traditional Chinese medicines.
Spokesman Cao Qingyao of the State Forestry Administration said China was very concerned about the situation of wild tigers worldwide and would continue to work with the international community to save the species.
"A number of international organizations and experts have questioned China's wild tiger protection policies," Cao said.
"The government attaches great importance to their queries. A worldwide policy study on how to effectively protect wild tigers and help them multiply is underway," he said.
The spokesman said China "welcomed well-researched advice or comments from experts and anyone who cares about the fate of wild tigers".
Suspicions that the trade ban imposed in 1993 had been eased spread when tiger bone wine -- also known as "bone-restoring wine" -- reappeared on the Chinese market last year.
Xiongsen Distillery, a subsidiary of Guilin's Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Park located in Guilin in southern Guangxi, was approved by the State Forestry Administration to produce tiger bone wine and bear bile wine.
The company assured the China Youth Daily that its bone-restoring wine was made with tiger bones. By August, it had used the skeletons of over 400 farmed tigers.
The administration didn't comment on the Xiongsen Distillery case. But the use of artificially bred tigers hit headlines last year.
The Huifu Fine-food Restaurant in Huangshan City of eastern Anhui Province was reportedly serving special dishes of endangered Chinese alligators in December. The restaurant said it acquired a special license from the State Administration of Forestry to use alligators raised at a breeding center.
Only about 150 Chinese alligators are thought to be still living in the wild in Anhui and neighboring Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces, along the Yangtze river. It is estimated that fewer than 20 wild tigers remain in northeast China and about 30 roam in southwest China along its borders with Myanmar and Laos.
Last September, several Chinese tiger parks pressed the government to lift its ban on the trade in tiger products, according to the Shanghai Daily.
Cao said that tigers have enjoyed state protection since 1988 and nature reserves have been established in their major habitats. "There has been no change to these policies in the past two decades," he said.
In 2004, several dozen rare species were ranked as usable resources by the forestry authorities including spotted deer, blue peacock and ostrich. This move has drawn constant criticism from animal right groups but advocates argue that artificially bred animals of rare species should be used for the good of the people.