years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
In March 2011, the draft animal protection legislation was presented to the national government during the annual National People’s Congress. The legislation has widespread public and academic support and ten Chinese law professors from across China collectively appealed to the Chinese government to enact such legislation to protect animals from cruelty.
Chinese Jurists collectively appeal for animal protection legislation to be enacted in China as soon as possible
After the reform and opening up of China, our legislation and economy achieved great success, which sets a concrete foundation for future social development. However, with the speedy economy development, the civilization level has not caught up yet. Indifference, cruelty and violence can be found everywhere. There is much room to make improvements on violence prevention, cruel behaviour reduction and social harmony promotion, especially in animal protection aspect.
In the past couple decades, our government has launched a chain of “Wild Animals Protection” related legislations which brought positive impact on wild life protection, but they are not sufficient for the scope nowadays. Therefore, we need to put more effort on reviewing and enhancement of current legislation purpose and execution, supporting systems and institution establishment. Compared to wild life protection, we worry more about the living environment of raised animals such as those in farms and companion animals. They are in wide variety and large quantity; they are also in close relationship with human beings. However, till now, there is no legislation in place to protect their basic interests. These animals are badly hurt and maltreated but no effective prevention or powerful coercion can be pursued. This legal loophole is not only harmful to animal protection but also leads to the huge gap between legislation and social morality, which hinders civilization level promotion.
In 2002, Liu HaiYang, a student of Qing Hua University, had a chemical experiment in the zoo in Beijing and burned a couple of black and brown bears with caustic soda and sulphuric acid solution. This animal hurting behaviour exacerbated the public but there is no legislation to be applied. In the end, the court could only charge him with vandalism. For numerous cat and dog abuse incidents found later on, even the abusers were criticized by the public or were forced to resign, no one was charged with anything. Behind these incidents, there are many similar animal abuse cases happening every day. For example, some working animals are overloaded; during long journey of transportation, animal’s basic interests are neglected: packed in small cages without sufficient food/water and rest; animals are forced to act against their instinct such as performing or even fighting each other to entertain audience; animals are abused for experiment; animals are fed with living animals/birds to attract more tourists; companion animals are mistreated or abandoned; for pigs, oxen, goats, as they are sold according to their weight, their bodies are injected a lot of water to make them heavier for higher price; animals are slaughtered in cruel ways or even skinned when they are still alive; the most controversial one is extracting bile from living bears. All these brutal and flinty behaviour has already brought the public resentment, criticism and boycott. More and more people take an ethical perspective to be concerned for animal’s living condition. At the same time, they are also aware of the necessity of comprehensive animal protection legislations to prevent from animal abuse happening again. To totally eliminate all weird scenes above, having animal protection legislation in place is not sufficient, but without such legislation will definitely bring substantive mischief to our society.
First of all, the lack of animal protection legislation indicates that there is no clear legal guideline in this area, which means there is no system to control animal mistreating behaviour. Abusers will never get punished with their unbridled behaviours; people and the government can do nothing against those abusers. This deteriorates conscience, confuses the public on the notion of legal system, hurts law-abiding customs and harms public welfare. On the other hand, that legislation clearly states brutally treating animals is illegal helps get rid of violence in society, promotes life respect and concern and lift up social civilization.
Secondly, to let animal abuse behaviour overflow does not only take animals to hell but also brings the society humiliation. In the past, Confucius promotes loving people and animals; Buddhism and Taoism aim at being merciful and value life, not killing but protecting lives. All these great values spread all over the world. Nowadays, we can see many countries have their own animal protection legislation in place. In Hong Kong, one of the cities in our country, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance was enacted in 1930’s and it has been being updated continuously; In Taiwan, Animal Protection Legislation launched in 1998 and is still being used till now. In China, there is no such ordinance, which hinders international interactions as well as unification.
Last but not least, the poor living environment of animal directly affects the health of animals. Behaviours like injecting water from animal’s mouth, cruelly slaughtering animal, contaminating meat, stimulating animals to have enraged reaction would directly or indirectly threatening human beings’ health and life safety. Moreover, animal products export from China will encounter animal welfare trading barriers, which incurs losses to related companies.
With above points, we believe China should draft animal protection related legislation as soon as possible. Such legislation should aim at respecting animal life and protecting animal’s basic interests; it also should prohibit all inappropriate and cruel behaviour against animals; it should refer to current international standards and tailor it to adapt to local condition in China. Hopefully it can settle the problem in China and meet social development needs. Even it may not be perfect at the very beginning, we believe it will be a symbol of our critical step towards harmonious and civilized society.
Professor Jiang Ping, former president of the China University of Political Science and Law
Professor Chi Wei-tung, Dean of College of Shanghai Jiaotong University
Professor Chen Hongyi, Hong Kong University Law Professor, Member of the Advisory Committee of the Basic Law of Hong Kong
Professor Wang Weiguo, Dean of school of civil and commercial law, China University of Political Science and Law
李曙光, President of the Graduate School of China University of politics and law,
张千帆, Beijing University Law School Professor
Professor Liu Renwen, Chinese Academy of social sciences researcher at the Institute of law
He Hairen, Research Assistant Professor of law Chinese Academy of social sciences, Beijing Oriental public interest law firm Director of legal aid
Xu Xueli, Zhong LUN law firm senior partner, lawyer
Liang Zhiping, Research fellow, Institute of the arts of China, Hong Fan, Director of the Institute of law and Economics