Misc. issues affecting animals in China
Animal rights movement
Ideas about animal welfare and animal rights were introduced to China in the 1990s.
“In many ways, the animal welfare movement in China is maturing far faster than it ever did in the West.” —Jill Robinson, Animals Asia
China’s animal protection movement is growing particularly among young people, especially those in urban areas and on the Internet. International NGOs played some role in igniting China’s animal movement, but local groups are increasingly taking over.
China is home to 130 million dogs, mostly pets. As China becomes wealthier, more people are owning pets, which increases opposition to animal cruelty. In April 2012, activists rescued 505 dogs who were headed to slaughter from a truck where they had endured harsh conditions.
Chinese activists prevented introduction of a bullfighting project in 2010 and rodeos in 2011. Activists have pre-empted a foie gras factory, ended live feeding in zoos, and rescued thousands of dogs and cats from being killed for meat. Vegetarian restaurants are increasing, though partly because of fashion rather than ethics.
China currently has no animal welfare laws.
In 2006, Zhou Ping of the National People’s Congress introduced the first nationwide animal-protection law in China, but it didn’t move forward.
In Sept. 2009, the first comprehensive Animal protection law of the People’s Republic of China was introduced, but it hasn’t made any progress.
Tsinghua University professor Zhao Nanyuan argues that animal rights represents a form of Western imperialism (“foreign trash”) that is “anti-humanity”. He argues that animals are not sentient and therefore don’t have rights. He encourages China to learn from the example of South Koreans who refused Western protests of its dog meat traditions.
As critics point out, Nanyuan’s cold outlook ignores the following truism: “Granted, these animals do not have all the desires we humans have; granted, they do not comprehend everything we humans comprehend; nevertheless, we and they do have some of the same desires and do comprehend some of the same things. The desires for food and water, shelter and companionship, freedom of movement and avoidance of pain.”
Some claim that it is contradictory for the U.S. to condemn China’s mistreatment of animals while engaging in its own forms of animal cruelty. Chinese animal welfare groups censured an American-style rodeo, as well as Jackie Chan’s support for it. One Chinese commenter said of Chan:
“You made a video about the protection of bears, and now you’re promoting the mistreatment of cattle, it’s a massive contradiction. Brother Chan, you’ve hurt me deeply.”
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