This week, the deputy commissioner of the Chinese General Administration of Customs, Sun Yibiao, led a delegation to New Zealand, where he was briefed on a detector-dog training program that the country is helping China develop, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
“Trainers from New Zealand customs will provide assistance to China when they begin training their dogs,” the New Zealand customs minister, Nicky Wagner, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mr. Sun also visited the New Zealand detector-dog base, according to the General Administration of Customs website. This will be China’s first cash-detecting dog program, though the country already employs dogs to track down contraband wildlife, drugs and explosives.
Enhancing surveillance capabilities has become more important for the Chinese authorities as President Xi Jinping’s far-reaching anticorruption campaign enters its third year. Officials suspected of corruption have been nabbed at the border while trying to abscond with their ill-gotten gains. Between April 2011 and early June 2012, Canadian border officials reportedly seized nearly $13 million in undeclared cash from Chinese travelers at the Toronto and Vancouver airports.
In New Zealand, Mr. Sun also discussed with Ms. Wagner ways to facilitate bilateral trade and efforts to counter drug trafficking. Relations between the two countries have strengthened since 2008, when New Zealand became the first developed country to sign a free-trade agreement with China. In 2013, China surpassed Australia to become New Zealand’s largest trading partner.
New Zealand began training dogs to detect cash in 2012. Like many other countries, it had long used dogs to detect explosives and drugs. Both the dogs and their handlers undergo an intensive three-month training period, with weekly refresher sessions after they enter service. Dogs are rewarded for successfully detecting their targets with praise or a game with their handler, but never “food or drugs,” according to the New Zealand Customs Service.
As of last June, the New Zealand customs authorities reported, the dual-trained drug- and cash-detecting canines had sniffed out more than $1.9 million in “undeclared or concealed cash.”