Asia & The Pacific Policy Society Policy Forum
4 August 2016
On 2 July 2016, a long-anticipated amendment to China’s most important law protecting animals, the Wildlife Protection Law, was approved by the National People’s Congress. Since its promulgation in 1989, the law has been the subject of criticism by animal protection scholars, most seriously because it explicitly promotes the use of wildlife for human benefit. This has led to widespread farming of wild animals, including tigers and Asiatic black bears, both of which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. It has also permitted cruel practices such as the de-fanging, drugging and de-clawing of wild animals for performances and photographs with customers in zoos.
On paper, the amendments to the law appear to provide some improvements: promoting conservation of wildlife habitats, and specifying that the purpose of breeding is for species protection, not profit. However, tiger and bear farms have long claimed they promote conservation, while the sale of products containing tiger bones, bear bile, and other derivatives is widespread. The bear bile industry alone is worth US$1.6 billion, and the amended law does not prohibit the continued sale of wild animal derivatives for human consumption.
It also does not address the problem of cruel animal performances. In 2011 the Ministry of Housing and Urban Rural Development introduced an administrative ban (which is widely flouted) on live animal performances in zoos, but the amended national law continues to legitimise wild animal performances and provides the animals with no protection from cruelty. It will also not provide any cruelty protections for animals farmed and slaughtered for the fur trade, despite China being the world’s largest producer and processor of fur... Click here to read the full article.