Candle in the Dark: Hope in China

China – the mere mention of the country sets animal lovers on edge. It’s no secret they bear a huge responsibility for the demand of horn and ivory, paving the destruction of rhinos and elephants, among other animals.

But there is reason to hope. The animal welfare movement is alive and well in China. The younger generation is aware, and becoming less tolerant of cruelty toward animals. With increasing attention from social media, animal protection issues are pushing to the public forefront.

chinese activists

Activists protest dog and cat meat industry.

The past couple of years, Chinese animal welfare advocates have

* banned the U.S. rodeo from entering Beijing
*demonstrated against the import of seal parts from Canada *
*ended barbaric live animal feeding in zoos
*prevented the construction of a foie gras factory
*rescued thousands of dogs and cats from the meat trade
*made stricter terms on harming endangered species(anyone who eats endangered species, or buys them for other purposes, is punishable by up to 10 years in jail)

In addition China is home to 50 million vegetarians and vegans, according to Peta.

Social media was responsible for alerting volunteers to intercept this truck filled with dogs bound for slaughter.

Social media was responsible for alerting volunteers to intercept this truck filled with dogs bound for slaughter.

The New York Times reports that revulsion at animal abuse is growing, and citizens have been taking matters into their own hands, rescuing dogs and cats from slaughter, and  banding together to lobby government for animal protection laws.

China has some laws protecting endangered species of wild animals, but no protection for other animals within the country.

A proposed draft of China’s first comprehensive animal welfare law, the China Animal Protection Law, was issued in September 2009, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. It has yet to become law.

Some of the organizations currently working in China, and with the government trying to change current laws are Animals Asia, Peta Asia, and Chinese Animal Protection Network.

According to Animals Asia, “After more than 20 years working in China, we know how fast things can change – and we know already from working with various government departments in Beijing and Sichuan Province, that there is definitely a growing recognition and sympathy towards the issue of animal welfare generally which did not exist 10 years ago.”

Yao Ming's shark protection campaign helped reduce fin demand by 90%

Yao Ming’s shark protection campaign helped reduce fin demand by 90%

No doubt that social media and celebrity endorsements are helping the movement along. Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, and pop singer Yu Kewei, artist Ai Weiwei, and actress Sun Li are actively campaigning against bear bile farms, rhino horn and elephant tusk use, and other endangered species slaughter.

China has lagged behind the most progressive nations in animal protection legislation for more than 180 years. But their time is coming. Realistically it has been and will continue to be slow, as younger generations push back against the older generation, more set in their ways.

 As a  Korean animal rights activist Sung Su Kim puts it:

“Culture has often been used as an excuse to turn away from suffering, and people in both Asia and the West often use cultural relativism to soothe their conscience for doing nothing”.

“Surely we want to regard various practices in our history (such as slavery and cannibalism) as something to be rid of rather than treat them as ‘culture’ and demand respect accordingly.”

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Categories: Good News, Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Candle in the Dark: Hope in China

  1. narhvalur

    Excuse me but yesterday there was a new record toll and rise in rhino Deaths!

    • And this is inexcusable! The good in animal welfare there does not outweigh or erase the bad, but it’s important to know there ARE people in China fighting with us.

  2. narhvalur

    I don’t know where you get your sources from but if you read EIA, Everything is getting worse in China.

  3. narhvalur

    You mention social media, but Twitter, Google and their biggest Internet account has been closed down.

    • There is info regarding the increase in the animal welfare movement in Animals Asia, Huffington Post, Care2 and the NY Times. The problems with China’s animal abuse, and the fact the country lags behind in animal welfare is not being disputed Ms. Novek. The point of this article is to show that we are ALL human. Just as there are bad people in our own countries, there ARE good ones trying to set things right.
      Animal abuse and injustice is infuriating, the only thing that equals this is racial profiling and discrimination. Not everyone in China uses rhino horn, abuses animals or agrees with the status quo.

  4. Karen

    China has good people. We have plenty of bad ones. I am strengthened knowing we are working together to make the world a better place.

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