The Animals’ Republic of China?

By on April 25, 2014 with 1 Comment By Wayne Pacelle
Chinese students-- seals

Photo: Xiamen Animal Protection Group, 2012
The banner signed by schoolchildren condemning seal slaughter was sent to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing.

A photo that caught my eye this week was this picture of a group of elementary schoolchildren in China holding up a banner that demands: “Stop Seal Slaughter! Stop Seal Trade!”

The banner was one of many recent signs of protest across the country, culminating in an admission by Gail Shea, Canadian fisheries and oceans minister, that animal advocates had essentially succeeded in preventing Canada’s bid to sell seal meat in China from going through. It was a significant victory for Chinese animal activists, who have been working hard to mobilize public and government sentiment against the trade, and for the staff of Humane Society International (HSI).

That’s just one example of the change happening in the way people in China view – and treat – animals. The work of those involved with animal welfare in China spans areas ranging from wildlife issues to protecting companion animals, farm animals and animals used in laboratories.

The Be Cruelty-Free team at HSI and its local partner, Capital Animal Welfare Association, have been pursuing the goal of a complete Chinese ban on animal testing of cosmetics. They have been meeting with Chinese policymakers and regulators to advance the acceptance of non-animal tests and accelerate the move away from animal testing. Late last year, HSI welcomed an announcement by China's Food & Drug Administration that from June 2014, China plans to remove its mandatory animal test requirements for domestically manufactured cosmetic products.

Event in Beijing

Photo: HSI 2011
Rebecca Aldworth, director of HSI/Canada, and Peter J. Li, China Policy Specialist for HSI, at a Beijing event to oppose seal product trade.

There’s also been groundbreaking work aimed at ending the dog meat trade – a trade that most Chinese now oppose. The latest development on this front was a startling incident this week, in which two dog thieves were beaten up by dog owners after being caught stealing dogs to sell them to restaurants. We at The HSUS don’t condone violence to fight animal abuse, but this incident demonstrates that the Chinese will no longer ignore dog trafficking.

Last year, HSI and its local partners rescued hundreds of dogs headed for the butcher’s knife at the Yulin dog meat festival. HSI has participated in raids on trucks crammed with dogs headed for slaughter, saving the lives of hundreds of animals, and provided funding for veterinary attention and to help shelter victims while loving new homes are found for them.

Other examples of work done by HSI and its partners in China include sharing expertise on wildlife issues with zoo directors and conservationists to help improve welfare and care of zoo animals (including inviting two zoo directors to spend time at the Houston Zoo), stopping American rodeos from entering the country, scuttling a proposed foie gras plant, and successfully persuading the government to stop serving shark fin soup at official functions.

China school students

Photo: Xiamen Animal Protection Group, 2012
Chinese schoolchildren learn about seals

In 2010, after learning of Canada’s intention to make mainland China a “dumping ground” for seal products that had already been rejected by citizens of Canada , the United States and the European Union, Chinese activists mobilized to form the Chinese Coalition Against Seal Trade, with practical assistance from HSI. Rebecca Aldworth, director of HSI/Canada, traveled to mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to meet with members of the group, as well as with Chinese officials, business leaders and reporters.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese saw HSI’s graphic videos of seal slaughter, and a special online report on Canada’s seal hunt attracted nearly 30,000 messages of condemnation from the Chinese people. The Chinese Coalition Against Seal Trade wrote to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Canadian Senate and Wang Qishan, who was in charge of China’s international trade.

The banner signed by the schoolchildren condemning the seal slaughter was sent to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. These young people are part of an effort that has really paid off, for the seals, and for the activists and organizations working to end the abuse of these beautiful animals, and it was great to see these schoolchildren sending out a message—loud and clear—that they will not tolerate cruelty to animals. These are markers of success in the biggest nation in the world, and some of its most important.

P.S. China has just announced that people who eat animals listed as rare or endangered – including the panda, golden monkeys, Asian black bears and pangolins – could face 10 years or more in prison. Knowingly buying any wild animals killed by illegal hunting will carry a maximum penalty of three years in jail. This is yet another very significant development for animals in the most populous nation in the world.

Animal Research and Testing, Humane Society International, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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1 Comment

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  1. Ellen Adams says:

    Concerning the dog meat trade in china and other Asian countries…. seems to me that these particular countries have been desensitized to the cruelty that the dog meat traders inflict upon these dogs and cats. I understand that there are chinese animal activists that are protesting it, but they seem to get nowhere fast. Until china enforces animal protection laws for these animals, the dog meat traders will win again and again and laugh while doing it. This breaks my heart. Maybe a different approach to the problem of slaughtering animals for anything would be better than protesting and violence. ( however, i do believe they should keep protesting). How about re- senstizing the chinese people. Particularly the dog meat traders. Approach the slaughterhouses with alternatives to slaughtering dogs. Help them start new businesses that don’t involve slaughtering animals. Offer them education at a college in lieu of torturing and killing animals. Maybe we would all be surprised to learn that maybe they want out of the business and just don’t know how to leave it. I suspect that a lot of these slaughterhouses are family owned and family run. How many of those individuals would jump at the chance to get out of it. It has to be harsh on the psyche of a human being to kill kill kill day after day after day. Even seasoned homicide detectives can’t stay in that career for to long before ut starts to affect their psyche. Offer these chinese slaughterers another choice. Show them how to be humans and humane. Make them take sensitivity classes at the local college. Stop them from stealing other people’s dogs. Teach them respect and responsibility. It’s so wrong on so many levels what they do to dogs. You know china is not a third world country. They claim tradition and culture. Tradition and culture are no excuse for cruelty. Abusing and torturing and killing animals is unnecessary and has no place in today’s society. It needs to stop. The government needs to impose strict animal protection laws for these poor dogs. SOON IF NOT NOW!!!!. Please work with the owners of these slaughterhouses and convince them to stop torturing and brutally murdering dogs.

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