Alexey Lutsenko from Astana Pro Team reacts during the awarding ceremony after the 7th stage of the 2016 Tour of Hainan International Road Cycling Race in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province, Oct. 28, 2016. (XinhuaYang Guanyu)

SHIJIAZHUANG, China, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The fifth Chinese 8-Ball Pool Masters Championship kicked off on Tuesday in Qinhuangdao, a coastal city of north China's Hebei Province, marking another step forward to the globalization of the Chinese-style game.

The six-day event, jointly organized by the Hebei Provincial Bureau of Sports and the Qinhuangdao Municipal Government, has attracted the participation of 64 contestants from 26 countries.

Half of them are Chinese who qualified through domestic tournament, while the rest, who come from countries, including Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Britain and the United States, got their tickets by means of recommendations or victories in overseas trials.

Among them are three-time world champion eight-ball pool player Gareth Potts, Filipino pool budding star Jeffrey Ignacio, and South African champion Velly Karel Diamond.

At the opening ceremony, snooker legend Stephen Hendry, the Global Ambassador of the Chinese 8-ball pool, read a joint declaration by China's International Chinese 8-Ball Association and Britain's Blackball International.

The two sides pledge to make billiards a global favorite pastime and push for it to "eventually be a part of the Olympic family," Hendry said.

Organizers also renewed their cooperative relations with 11 countries that will continue to hold overseas Chinese 8-ball games in 2017.

The Chinese 8-Ball Pool, which combines snooker style, nine-ball table size and American 8-Ball Pool competition rules, has been a unique Chinese game of billiards for decades, and has become increasingly popular abroad in recent years.

FILE - In this file photo taken Friday Air Jordan Slippers For Sale , Sept. 30, 2016, an elephant walks through the bush at the Southern African Wildlife College on the edge of Kruger National Park in South Africa. The Chinese government said in a statement released on Friday Dec. 30 Air Jordan Jumpman Pro For Sale , 2016, it will shut down its official ivory trade at the end of 2017 in a move designed to curb the mass slaughter of African elephants.(AP PhotoDenis Farrell, FILE)

JOHANNESBURG — China says it plans to shut down its ivory trade by the end of 2017 in a move designed to curb the mass slaughter of African elephants.

The Chinese government will end the processing and selling of ivory and ivory products by the end of March as it phases out the legal trade Air Jordan 31 For Sale , according to a statement released on Friday.

China had previously announced it planned to shut down the commercial trade, which conservationists described as significant because China's vast, increasingly affluent consumer market drives much of the elephant poaching across Africa.

"This is a game changer for Africa's elephants Air Jordan Spizike For Sale ," said Aili Kang, the Asia director for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.

China, which has supported an ivory-carving industry as part of its cultural heritage Air Jordan Fly Wade For Sale , said carvers will be encouraged to change their activities and work, for example, in the restoration of artifacts for museums. More efforts will be made to stop the illegal trade Air Jordan Flight 45 For Sale , the statement said.

China has allowed trade in ivory acquired before a 1989 ban on the ivory trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which seeks to regulate the multi-billion-dollar trade in wild animals and plants.

China also permits trade from a one-time, CITES-approved purchase by China and Japan of an ivory stockpile from several African countries in 2008.

Conservation groups say China's illegal trade has since flourished and that criminal syndicates have used the legal Chinese market as cover for their illicit business in tusks.

The number of Africa's savannah elephants dropped by about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014 Air Jordan 9 Retro For Sale , to 352,000, because of poaching Air Jordan 8 Retro For Sale , according to a study published this year. Forest elephants, which are more difficult to count, are also under severe threat.

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