Animal welfare in China
The moment I saw the the work, the first issue came to my mind was the animal welfare in China. I am an owner of a one-year-old ginger tabby cat and every time I watch her playing with toys on the floor, I tend to wish all pet animals could be treated humanely in this country as the way my beloved cat are treated.
Strengthen the protection of animal welfare, is conducive to building a harmonious society and promote social sustainable development. First of all, to strengthen the protection of animal welfare, it is not only showing cares for animals, but also improve the whole social morality level. The higher the degree of civilization in a society, the wider the scope of moral care in society. Also, cruelty to animal would also worsen the social harmonious development.
Many Chinese people, from my observation, love animals as much as people do in western countries. Public will condemn the animal abusers and often attack them by posting their personal information on social media. I have witnessed an event which shows Chinese people’s sympathy to animals. It is a “animal reality show” named “Wonderful friends” which forces animal (bears, apes, tigers etc) to perform for fun regardless of animal welfare , furious public and professionals expressed fierce objection to the production team. International experts and animal research associations criticize the show since it is “the detrimental welfare of the animals, the promotion of misleading messages on wildlife conservation, and the potential threat to public safety.” As a result,the animal reality show was canceled under public pressure. I was a little relieved at that time.
Sadly, most of the animal abuses do not catch much attention and stimulate such voices. Not all of the oppositions from public towards animal abuse would be effective enough to stop the cruelty.
It is not surprise to me that many Chinese people may find the concept of “animal welfare” unfamiliar. The term was introduced into China in 1990s. As we are entering a new century, many things in China starts to pick up “western” style. Many people includes me keep dogs, cats and birds as pets at home. There are many pet celebrities on social media. Two phenomenons exists in China in regard of animal welfare. There is no effective law established to protect the pets from being abused ; at the same time, news about wildlife smugglers or abusers receiving harsh punishments is regularly heard.
The Yulin Dog-eating festival, for example, has been fiercely criticized by animal rights campaigners every year, but it still took place in 2016. There is indeed limit thing people can do to fight against the animal abusers, and more importantly, to help the abused animals. I still want to re-look at the situation: why is the issue of animal welfare being largely overlooked in China?
Firstly, there is no proper animal legislation in place. Animal welfare issue in China is largely overlooked by the government, although the public voices calling for new legislation and stronger law enforcement are increasing. Pets, homeless animals, lab animals and zoo animals are excluded from the subject of the Protection of Wildlife (2004 Amendment). The definition of “wildlife” in this legislation is quoted here: “Article 2. The wildlife protected under this Law refers to the species of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife which are rare or near extinction and the species of terrestrial wildlife which are beneficial or of important economic or scientific value.” It is obvious that only animals which are economically or scientific beneficial to human beings are legally protected.
After studied the current Law of Protection of Wildlife, I found out that there was indeed a proposal for amendment written by professionals submitted to the state congress in 2009, but there was no official response until today. I found an academic article written by Song Wei (2015) talking about the absence of animal welfare legislation. The article is pessimistic about the possible change in government attitudes. According to Professor Song Wei “Chinese animal protection unified legislative process is slow. It is difficult to determine specific schedule for the highly anticipated Against Cruelty to Animals Law and Animal Protection Law…It can be predicted that unified legislation in the next ten years will still be difficult”（Song 2015).
It is inevitable to ask this question: what is it that ultimately defers the legislation come in force?
From traditional views, animals are tools for human rather than companions, so there is no rights for them. While recently, study shows that the notion of respect animal can dated back thousands years ago. “a long cultural legacy of compassion for non-human animals’ since ancient time.In fact, the two main religions in China, Daoism and Buddhism,are all opposite to animal abuse” (Li and Davey 2013). Liu et al (2013) also assume that poverty may leads to ignorance of animal welfare and habit of eating companion animals like dogs; Peter Li (2012) suggests that economic condition can be the main reason that delays animal welfare in China. The fear of being poor still lingering in people’s minds. “This fear has a regime stability connotation to the Chinese Communist leaders”(Li 2012). This also explains the attitude of Chinese government on the issue of protecting animal welfare because the authority fears that this may slow down the economic growth. Food supply is on the top of the list of Chinese government, and “could be interpreted as leading to a regime stability crisis”((Li 2012) . Li also cited the example of people’s sensitivity to pork price to explain the people seeing pigs as product than as the object of animal welfare.
The current animal welfare situation in China is not optimistic because of many reasons. We have a long way to go on this issue. While the good thing is there are many animal welfare supporters in China. I do believe that with more education and conscientiousness as well as proper legislation, the situation will be much better in the future.
“Joint Statement on Wonderful Friends.”World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.n.d. Web. June 19 2016.
Worley, Will. “Yulin Dog Meat Festival 2016: Dozens of animals rescued from slaughter at annual event in China.”Independent.co.uk. June 15 2016. Web. June 19 2016
Tobias, Michael Charles. “Animal Rights In China.”Forbes. November 2 2012.Web. June 19 2016.
Actman,Jani. “Making Booze With Rare Animals Sends Man to Prison.”Nationalgeographic. May 82016. Web. June 19 2016.
Jiaqi, Lu, Kathryn Bayne,and Jianfei Wang.“Current Status of Animal Welfare and Animal Rights inChina.” Alternatives to Laboratory Animals41.5 (2013): 351-357.