Damian Grammaticas, China correspondent

Damian Grammaticas China correspondent

Come here for my take on life in the world's most populous country - its politics, people and power

Uncovering China's illegal ivory trade

  • 13 February 2014
  • From the section China

A major conference in London is considering how to protect Africa's wildlife, including rhinos and elephants, from an unprecedented surge in illegal trafficking. Conservationists warn that the growth in the illegal ivory trade means elephants could be wiped out in parts of Africa in the next few years. As demand from China pushes levels of poaching and smuggling to new highs, we investigate China's illegal ivory traders.

In a nondescript shopping mall in Beijing sellers offering antiques and artworks are crammed together. The shops are piled high with stone carvings, jade and ivory. Some have whole elephant tusks on display, others ivory figures, statues and intricately worked scenes.

As soon as we enter one shop with cabinet after cabinet of carvings, the owner gets tense and defensive. "We have a licence. We have a legal licence to sell ivory. It's hanging there," he says pointing to the wall.

China has around 150 legal, government-licensed ivory shops. This is one of them. They are the only places allowed to sell ivory to individual buyers. The government says ivory carving is an ancient art it wants to keep alive.

Chinese consumers, increasingly wealthy, desire ivory. Some think it is lucky, while for some it is a way to display their status. Others see it as a good investment and many give ivory as a gift or bribe to win favour with an official or business contact. It is certainly good business.

Read full article Uncovering China's illegal ivory trade

Tibetan immolations: Desperation as world looks away

  • 2 December 2013
  • From the section China

It's sunrise and 20 degrees below zero. The sound of monks at prayer drifts across the snow-lined valley.

We are high in the jagged mountains that rise towards the Tibetan plateau. Harsh and beautiful, this region outside Tibet itself is home to six million Tibetans.

Read full article Tibetan immolations: Desperation as world looks away

Damian added analysis to:

Tiananmen crash: China police 'seek Xinjiang suspects'

  • 29 October 2013
  • From the section China

The two men police want information about have Uighur names and come from areas in Xinjiang where there has been significant violence.

One man is from Lukun in Shanshan county, where around 30 people died in June this year. A BBC team were prevented from reaching the scene.

Read full article Tiananmen crash: China police 'seek Xinjiang suspects'

Damian added analysis to:

China anti-corruption activists on trial in Jiangxi

  • 28 October 2013
  • From the section China

Xinyu, where this trial is taking place, is a gritty, polluted place - rows of grey concrete apartment blocks and giant factory chimneys. It is perhaps an apt setting. A year ago, when Xi Jinping took over as the head of the Communist Party, some hoped a new, younger leader might bring reforms to China, more tolerance of critics, more freedoms.

Instead, with this prosecution in this gritty city, those hopes for change have faded. Mr Xi appears to be overseeing an intensifying crackdown that goes beyond anything his predecessors did, designed to reinforce his authority and that of the party too.

Read full article China anti-corruption activists on trial in Jiangxi

Going nuclear: UK's deal with China

  • 17 October 2013
  • From the section China
George Osborne chats with Taishan Nuclear Power General Manager Guo in front of nuclear reactor under construction in Taishan (17 Oct 2013)
George Osborne sees Chinese involvement in Britain's nuclear industry as a great opportunity

Perched high on top of one of the giant new reactor buildings under construction at Taishan we had a view over the entire site.

It's one of the biggest nuclear plants of its kind in the world: six reactors being built on the edge of the South China Sea.

Read full article Going nuclear: UK's deal with China

Damian added analysis to:

Li Tianyi: China court jails army singers' son for rape

  • 26 September 2013
  • From the section China

Just 16 years old when he led this gang rape, Li Tianyi has come to symbolise the outrageous excesses of the children of China's elites.

Convicting him, the court said security camera footage showed Li dragging his victim into a hotel lift and hitting her in the face.

Read full article Li Tianyi: China court jails army singers' son for rape

Admiration lingers for Bo Xilai in China's Chongqing

  • 20 September 2013
  • From the section China
China's south-west metropolis of Chongqing in China
Chongqing, where Bo Xilai used to be leader, is one of China's great cities

In a great, sweeping, snaking curve, the Yangtze river flows wide and fast through the city of Chongqing. Murky and polluted, full of dangerous undercurrents, its waters mix with the Jialing river. The point at which the two rivers meet is where Chongqing's skyscrapers rise, on a finger of land surrounded by water, like an inland Manhattan.

Chongqing is one of China's great cities, a river port filled with giant factories, the hub for a region of 30 million people. It was once a wartime capital, bombed by the Japanese. More recently riddled with mafia gangs, known for crime and corruption, the city has played a part in many of China's political dramas. It's here where you have to come to understand the rise, and now the fall, of Bo Xilai.

Read full article Admiration lingers for Bo Xilai in China's Chongqing

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About Damian

Damian joined the BBC in 1994 as a trainee reporter for BBC Television News.

For the past decade he has worked as a foreign correspondent based in Hong Kong, Moscow and Delhi before moving to Beijing in 2009.

Damian grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, where he was born in June 1970.

He graduated from Corpus Christi College Cambridge in 1992 with a degree in English literature.

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