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Protecting China’s animals would ease food safety crisis

Introducing stronger animal welfare legislation in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) is in China's interests, says Peter Li of Humane Society International

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China has no safety procedures for regulating the dog-meat trade (Image by Zhang Yuanyuan)

As China’s policymakers mull the contents of the country’s next Five-Year Plan, chinadialogue asks a range of contributors what they would like to see in the development blueprint.  

One of China’s most politically destabilising conflicts is the confrontation between its expanding animal protection community and the animal cruelty industries. There are an estimated 130 million dogs in China today. Yet the massive dog slaughter for consumption, say in Yulin of Guangxi, is encouraged by dog-meat traders who use “folk cuisine” to defend their business interests.  

China has no dog farms to supply the dog-meat markets of Guangdong, Guangxi and Jilin, and the majority of the dogs that end up there are believed to be stolen household pets or rural watch-dogs. In a suburban village in Jinan of Shandong, 87% of the households interviewed reported dog thefts, while in Guilin two dog thieves were lynched by angry dog owners. The fact that the villagers took extreme measures to defend their own rights shows the intensity of ill feeling. At a time when the Chinese authorities are preoccupied with social stability, this conflict poses a threat.  

The food-safety crisis engulfing China is also connected to animal welfare. China does not have safety procedures for regulating the dog-meat trade, for instance. Yet the meat of stolen, sick and dying dogs is sold in markets. Tolerance of this illegal trade has encouraged not only dog thefts but also poisoning. In a police crackdown in Hunan last year, 12 tonnes of poisoned dogs were uncovered. Taiwan and Hong Kong have outlawed dog eating; shouldn’t mainland China follow suit? 

China has the world’s biggest animal farming industry. The pigs that washed down the Huangpu River in 2013 were only the tip of the iceberg. The majority of farm mortalities are not carried away downstream, nor even disposed of according to state regulations. They could still be turned into meat products for human consumption or other questionable purposes. Those that survive the concentrated feeding operations and transport to the slaughterhouses are perhaps just as dangerous. Poor animal care and farming conditions have made drug abuse a common practice on Chinese factory farms, while industrialised animal farming has been linked to public health crises, pollution and climate change. Isn’t it time that China searched for alternative farming models?   

The 13th Five-Year Plan will not only affect China, but the rest of the world too, and in the global fight for wildlife conservation China has a lot to prove. Elephant poaching has reached an unprecedented scale, and China’s legal domestic ivory sale is partly responsible for sustaining or encouraging demand for tusks. Outlawing domestic ivory sales in China would be a major contribution. Cracking down on transnational poaching activities by Chinese nationals would also boost China’s international reputation. Chinese wildlife traders who have gone into the forests and waters of Asia and Africa for tiger parts, pangolins, turtles, rhino horns and bear paws are straining China’s foreign relations. China’s Wildlife Protection Law, which gives priority to “development and rational use” of wildlife, should be revised to remove this policy support.  

A debate has been going on in China in the last three years, triggered by an incident in which 18 pedestrians ignored a dying toddler who had been knocked down by a car on a busy street. People ask what has made our people cold and indifferent. “I am not surprised,” commented one animal protectionist. “There are too many practices in our society that are desensitising our people, particularly the young people to the feelings of others.”  

Despite government policies discouraging abuse of zoo animals, animal performance, live feeding and photo opportunities with tethered tigers continue in many parts of the country. In most places where dogs are eaten, they get slaughtered in public places, on the side of the roads or in front of restaurants. “My daughter has to witness dog slaughter every morning when she goes to school,” reported one journalist. Such practices impose barbarity on the Chinese public.

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评论 comments

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

太悲哀了

在动物福利这个话题上,中国政府肩负重任。一些愚蠢无知的人歪曲了我们的传统、我们的价值观和我们5000年的历史,而这些正是世界人民非常尊重的地方。不幸的是,越来越多的人们开始意识到中国并不是他们想象的那样。。。

Sad

Chinese government has a hug task on their shoulder when dealing with Animals welfare issues . They have allowed some of the stupid and the most ignorant individuals mis-represented our tradition, our value and our fiver thousand years of history which the world has high respect for. Unfortunately, the world is coming to a more and more realization that China is not what they think it is ..

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

请停止吃狗肉和贩卖象牙

这太野蛮了!中国是时候采取行动了。请对这些动物仁慈一些,它们与我们同享一个世界。

stop eating dogs & the sale of ivory ..

its so barbaric China its time to clean your act & be more kind to the animals how share this world whit us..........

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

Mrs Diane White

China's treatment of animals is barbaric and lets the world know its citizens are nothing but savages. It is time for China to change. China's disregard for all animals, large and small, is UNACCEPTABLE!!!

戴安娜 怀特女士

中国对待动物的方式是野蛮的,这让世界看到其公民都是野人。中国改变的时间到了。中国对动物的漠视是不可接受的,不管大动物还是小动物。

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

可怕的狗肉交易?

仅仅是停止吗?这是人类的羞愧。

Horrendous Dog Meat Trade?

Just STOP? Shame on you so called human beings?

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

动物

我曾经一直想去中国,但是现在不再想了,无法面对那些残忍的行径。

animals

I always wanted to visit China but not anymore, can't cope with the cruelty

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

保护中国的动物!

你们好!我觉得中国还是一个很精彩的国度。想到中国悠久的文化和近代发展的能力,再想到中国的皮毛行业,我还是很难过。所以我将不再消费来自中国的产品。

祝好

Maria Ramirez

Protecting Chinas animals!

Hallo! I think China seems to be an amazing country. Though the knowledge of Chinas fur-industri, I am having à Hard time thinking high thoughts of your culture and your ability to develop to be modern people as it. looks today. therefor I avoid to comsume items or food from China. best regards Maria Ramirez

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

楼卡迪斯先生

请停止残忍地对待狗。请在你的国家停止这一行为,向世人展示你的文明与人性。

MR GALANTIS LOUKAKIS, ATHENS CITY HALL

PLEASE STOP TGHE CRUELITY AGAINST DOGS ! STOP THIS IN YOUR COUNTRY! YOU ARE HUMANS ! PLEASE SHOW TO THE WORLD YOUR CIVILISATION AND HUMANITY. STOP CHINA!

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

克莉丝丁·思诺

这篇文章写到太好了!中国需要真正的动物保护法,而不仅仅是冠冕堂皇的说辞。请停止谋杀非法盗取的狗和猫吧!

Christine Snow

This article is spot on! Animal protections laws are needed in China - enough rhetoric. Stop murdering stolen dogs & cats.