Animal Rights in China – Times Are Changing
China often makes headlines because of the abuse of animals in the country, whether on fur farms, in zoos or in the meat industry. But there is another side to this nation of more than a billion people. Perhaps less well known is the fact that China is home to an estimated 50 million vegetarians and vegans. That means almost as many people follow a meat-free diet in China as there are people in the UK! And together, these compassionate eaters are saving literally billions of animals’ lives a year, simply by keeping them off their plates.
This is a growing trend, but hardly a new one for China. As early as the sixth century, Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty refused animal products, and today, high-profile celebs, such as singer and actor Chen Kun, are leading the way by adopting a cruelty-free diet.
There are changes afoot in other areas, too. Thanks in part to the work of PETA Asia and other grassroots organisations, awareness is shifting. As a result of the younger generation’s greater access to animal rights information and a changing political landscape, more and more people are mobilising to help animals. In a country where citizens often do not have the same freedom to protest as people in Europe, it’s especially inspiring to see how things are changing.
The following are just a few recent highlights:
- PETA Asia’s recent online anti-fur pledge campaign, “Fur Hurts,” received almost 350,000 signatures from all over China.
- The Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development proposed an outline of a comprehensive ban on animal performances in zoos.
- More and more consumers are looking online for cruelty-free cosmetics and personal products not registered for sale in China.
- Retailers that operate in China, such as Les Enphants, Giordano, MUJI, and UNIQLO have all stopped selling wool from mulesed sheep after being informed by PETA affiliates about the cruelty involved in the procedure.
- The Council of Agriculture of Taiwan is in the process of establishing a separate agency for animal protection rather than keeping it under the ruling of animal husbandry, after letters from PETA supporters flooded in.
- Thanks, in part, to a grant from PETA US, scientists in China are now being trained to make the switch to more accurate and humane non-animal testing methods.
- Both Air China and China Eastern Airlines recently stopped shipping primates to laboratories for cruel tests, following international campaigns by PETA US and affiliates.
Of course, there’s still so much to do in terms of fighting for animals in China. But thanks to this growing movement of committed, compassionate people, we’re making progress. It’s exciting – and we can’t wait to see what will happen next.