The biggest advance in the recent history of companion animal welfare and the welfare of other animals could take place in the not too distant future. China has no laws prohibiting animal cruelty. Although there is a “Wildlife Law” that appears to be designed to protect the commercialization of wildlife and there is some protection for laboratory animals.
Examples of animal cruelty in China (see also cat meat):
- In December 2005, Zhang Liangliang, a 3rd year postgraduate student in mathematics at Fudan University adopted and then tortured over 30 cats and kittens. He was not prosecuted because there were and are no laws under which he could be charged. Even if he could have been charged he probably would not have been convicted because of entrenched attitudes, even amongst judges.
- In 2006 a woman, a nurse, named Wang Jue, killed a kitten by stomping on the kitten with her high heeled shoes. She had an accomplice who made a video of it – a crush video. She was not prosecuted.
- In response to a rabies scare, in 2009, 37,000 dogs where clubbed to death in Shan Xi province alone by local public security bureau officers. Many were pets with a rabies vaccination out for a walk. Horrendous. Legalized animal cruelty on a grand and barbaric scale if you ask me. This would be illegal under the proposes law.
However, China has now prepared laws that protect companion animals and other animals. It is the first law of its kind in China and long overdue. The draft was written by Professor Chang Jiwen. In contrast, Beijing Professor Zhao Nanyuan, says that pro-animal legislation is “anti-human”!
Professor Nanyuan says that animals are not sentient and the change has been forced on China by Western countries, which he says produce “foreign trash” (presumed to mean trashy ideas and attitudes). You can see that animal welfare polarizes people. You can also get a glimmer of the old (and remaining) attitude of mainstream China in Professor Nanyuan’s thoughts. Is China ready for change?
I think China is ready to change but not immediately. This desire to change is not because the government, necessarily, wants to improve animal welfare. It is because there is a desire to become acceptable international trading partners. China wants to fit in.
The laws are written up but not yet in force. The big step is getting them into law and then to enforce the law effectively. However, to actually draft the law is a major step forward.
Number of pets in China – why this could be the biggest advance in animal welfare
The reason why this is such good news and big news, in the important sphere of animal welfare, is because, at an estimate, there are over 53 million domestic cats in China and probably an equal number of feral cats, inline with America. I’ll be honest in that the figure of 53 million is probably an underestimation.
These cats are currently unprotected. Overnight, a change in the law would protect 53 million companion cats. That is why I have called this article the “Biggest Advance in Companion Animal Welfare”. The title is obviously based on world events, which is the way it should be.
In fact, the proposed creation of genuine animal protection laws benefits almost 300 million pets in China. There were an estimated 271 million pets in 2002. I have projected to 2013.
The proposal to introduce a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals law in the People’s Republic of China is an important advance in world animal protection legislation.
Here is some more detail. Although I won’t go into too much detail because:
- it is a specialist subject and laborious to read through and
- the draft may not become law.
The first reality check is that the draft legislation does not establish a duty of care towards animals as is the case in Europe, UK, USA and Australia, for example. It is solely concerned with preventing “overt” animal cruelty. “Overt” means outstanding or severe. So, the proposed laws are pretty crude but a starting point. Animal welfare laws should create a general duty of care because it sets the tone and tenor of our relationship with animals; a vital ingredient to animal welfare.
We are told the change came about due to “public pressure”. Chinese polls indicate that 80% of Chinese people in China support animal welfare legislation. So, the Chinese people want change. Great. Some of them have read my articles! There are many articles highlighting the need for change in animal welfare in China.
There are many stray cats and dogs especially in Beijing. The draft law would make the abandonment of companion animals an offence and makes provision for the setting up of animal shelters. This is a big step.
I won’t go on. If you would like to read more, this is a nice document. It is long, though, and a slow read.
I am pleased that China is, oh so slowly, changing its culture. The current or old culture, I am not sure which, says that animals are not sentient beings and that they can be killed, hurt and eaten in any way the human desires.