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    Mar
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    Why aren't animals protected in China?
    Why aren't animals protected in China?
    CHINA

    Why aren't animals protected in China?

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    by
    Viola Zhou
    Viola Zhou
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    It's the latest case of animal abuse to go viral in China.

    In a widely circulated video, a smartly dressed young man smashes the head of a white kitten on a sidewalk in the eastern city of Nanjing.

    A Chinese news site, Kankannews.com, reported that the unnamed man had demanded a refund from the pet shop where he had purchased the kitten, claiming that he had been sold a sick animal.

    It's unclear what happened to the man, but he is unlikely to be punished. 

    China has no law against animal cruelty, and stories of brutal abuse are frequently reported across the country.

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    In January, surveillance footage showed a Shanghai man killing a stray cat by kicking it and throwing it to the ground, media outlet Pear Video reported. 

    And in March last year, an online channel that broadcasts footage of wild animals being hunted, tortured and killed was found to have more than 460,000 subscribers on its live-streaming site, according to the Beijing News

    Abusive practices are also common in zoos and farms as well as drugs and cosmetics-testing labs, according to animal rights groups. 

    The consumption of dog and cat meat is also common in some regions. 

    Dog meat is popular in some regions in China.
    Dog meat is popular in some regions in China. Photo: AP
    Group 5
    China is an old civilization. How come it is so far behind in terms of humanity towards animals?
    -
    Bian Haiying, animal rights activist

    Meanwhile, fast-growing pet ownership has contributed to an increasing awareness of animal rights, especially in urban communities. 

    Reports of abuse have prompted anger and condemnation on social media, with people questioning why the perpetrators go unpunished. 

    Grassroots advocacy groups are sprouting up, organizing education campaigns and animal-rescue drives through social media. 

    Bian Haiying, a music teacher in Shanghai, became an animal rights advocate in October after getting her first dog, Jeny. 

    Animal rights advocate Bian Haiying and her dog Jeny.
    Animal rights advocate Bian Haiying and her dog Jeny. Photo: Bian Haiying

    Part of an online community of more than 2,000 activists, Bian rescues stray dogs and writes articles calling for anti-cruelty legislation. 

    “I cry every time I watch videos of dogs and cats being hurt,” she said. “China is an old civilization. How come it is so far behind in terms of humanity towards animals?” 

    Animal rights advocates in January rescue over 150 stray dogs that were due to be killed in Shanghai.
    Animal rights advocates in January rescue over 150 stray dogs that were due to be killed in Shanghai. Photo: Bian Haiying

    Some Chinese territories are already offering legal protection to animals. 

    Hong Kong, a former British colony with a separate legal system, has long banned animal torture and the slaughter of dogs and cats. 

    For nearly a decade, animal lovers have been lobbying for similar laws to be enacted in mainland China. 

    In 2010, a group of legal experts and animal rights advocates in China drafted an anti-animal cruelty law that banned abusive acts, such as abandoning pets and harvesting organs from live animals. 

    But the draft submitted to the Chinese parliament has yet to be put on the legislative agenda. 

    Most recently, a Chinese member of parliament has called on Beijing to outlaw animal abuse amid growing public outrage over animal cruelty in the country. 

    Group 5
    Animal abuse promotes violence and cruelty
    -
    Zhu Lieyu, NPC deputy

    Zhu Lieyu, a deputy to the National People’s Congress, has proposed that China introduce an anti-animal abuse law and make cruelty a criminal offense. 

    The lawyer from the southern province of Guangdong says heavy penalties should be in place to stop people from torturing animals, such as ripping the fur off live rabbits and hunting pet dogs. 

    “Animal abuse promotes violence and cruelty,” he told Beijing News ahead of China’s annual parliamentary session this month. “Such acts should lead to punishments.” 

    Pet ownership is rising in China.
    Pet ownership is rising in China. Photo: AP

    Despite growing support from society and years of discussion, animal welfare legislation is moving slowly in China. 

    On the sidelines of the parliamentary meeting, an official in charge of legislation said the authorities had yet to reach a consensus over an animal protection law. 

    Peter Li, a China policy adviser to Humane Society International, says the government is reluctant to introduce the law because it fears it would hurt economic growth and employment. 

    “If an anti-cruelty law were adopted,” Li says, “bear bile farming would be outlawed, fur-animal farming could be challenged and the dog meat trade would be closed.”

    Li says China’s livestock industry, the biggest in the world, will also be hard hit if it is forced to meet stringent animal welfare rules. 

    Back in Nanjing, the kitten was picked up by a female pet shop staff member after the man threw it onto the sidewalk several times.

    The cat was hardly breathing in the woman's arms. It soon died on the couch of the pet shop.

    VIOLA ZHOU
    VIOLA ZHOU
    Viola is a multimedia producer at Inkstone. Previously, she wrote about Chinese politics for the South China Morning Post.

    VIOLA ZHOU
    VIOLA ZHOU
    Viola is a multimedia producer at Inkstone. Previously, she wrote about Chinese politics for the South China Morning Post.

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