Dogs, chickens, monkeys, and China

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1999:

FUZHOU, China––“An old
Chinese saying, ‘Killing the chicken to scare
the monkey,” may explain the crackdown”
on dissent now underway in China, Melinda
Liu and Russell Watson offered in the
January 11 edition of Newsweek.
“This year brings some anniversaries
that may stir unrest,” they added, citing
the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen
Square massacre, the 40th anniversary of an
unsuccessful Tibetan revolt against Communist
rule, and the 50th anniversary of the
Communist takeover of China itself.
“Killing the chicken to scare the
monkey” may also explain the dog purges
threatened in December in Fuzhou City,
Fujian province, and actually carried out in
Wuhu, Anhui province.

Fuzhou, announcing it would kill
dogs on December 8, banned dog ownership
back in 1992, but had nonetheless licensed an
estimated 10,000 dogs since then. Fuzhou
officials said that only dogs found at large
would be killed. Residents were mistrustful.
“In 1990,” Damien McElroy of the
London Sunday Telegraph recalled, “Beijing
formed dog-beating squads. Owners rushed
their dogs into refuges, often minutes before
killing squads burst into apartments using tactics
more appropriate for a drug bust.”
Such purges have been frequent
under Communist rule, tending to coincide
with political crackdowns.
A variant came in January 1997,
six months after Britain returned Hong Kong
to China, when virtually all civil servants
were ordered to help slaughter domestic birds,
purportedly to prevent the spread of a variant
flu allegedly carried by ducks. But the flu,
though it had killed five people in eight
months, had actually afflicted only 21 people––and
may have begun on the mainland.
What the poultry slaughter mostly did was
instill fear of Chinese authority.
In Fuzhou City at least, the threat
of dog-killing did not bring docility.
Reported David Rennie of The Daily
T e l e g r a p h, “The Fuzhou City propaganda
department declined to comment, but there
have been many protests. National and international
animal welfare groups are to send a
joint appeal to the city offering advice on a
humane dog control policy.”
Confirmed Grace Ge Gabriel, the
International Fund for Animal Welfare representative
in Beijing, “Our office drafted a letter
to the various government agencies, cosigned
by other animal welfare and protection
organizations, i.e. Animals Asia Foundation,
Earth Care, and Friends of Nature. We urged
Fuzhou to cancel the killing, and offered help
to draft a more scientific and humane policy
to manage the dog population. Our appeal
has halted the killing for now in Fuzhou,” Ge
Gabriel e-mailed on January 7.
However, Ge Gabriel continued,
“We just got news that Wuhu did kill dogs. It
set a very bad precedent in Anhui province,”
where several other cities, she wrote,
“including the capital, Hefei City, are considering
similar actions.”
Ge Gabriel asked that polite letters
of objection be sent to:
Governor Wang Tai Hua, Anhui
Province People’s Government, Changjiang
Lu, Hefei City, Anhui Province, People’s
Republic of China 230000; Mr. Wang
Zhaoyao, Anhui Communist Party
Committee, Changjiang Lu, Hefei City,
Anhui Province, People’s Republic of China
230000; and Mayor Ma Yuanfei, Vice
Mayor Li Youwei, Hefei City People’s
Government, Anhui Province, People’s
Republic of China, 230001.

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