China completes draft animal welfare legislation

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2009:
BEIJING, MOSCOW– China on July 7, 2009 announced the
completion of a draft national animal welfare law. To be published
for public comment in August 2009, “The proposed draft clearly
delineates how animals should be raised, transported, and
slaughtered,” reported China Central Television, the state
broadcasting company. “It also calls for penalties and criminal
punishment for animal abuse. The draft law covers wildlife, farm
and companion animals.”
“Severe violators could be sent to prison, while lighter
punishments would include fines and detention of fewer than 15 days,”
elaborated a report in the English-language Global Times.


“Animals have the right not to be scared, hurt, or killed
by human beings,” said Chinese Academy of Social Sciences social
law research director Chang Jiwen. “Our motivation is to protect
animals, while at the same time protecting the sensibilities and
interests of humans. We should treat animals humanely. But that
doesn’t mean we cannot make use of them.”
Elaborated CCTV, “Currently only endangered animals are
protected. No existing law addresses animal welfare systematically.
A comprehensive animal protection law is considered imperative as
cases of animal abuse are on the rise. In June 2009 at least 30,000
dogs were culled in Hanzhong, Shaanxi province, following a rabies
outbreak which caused 12 human deaths. The cull has triggered harsh
criticism from the public.
“A recent survey carried out by the Internet portal Sina.com
shows 89% of more than 63,000 people surveyed support the
legislation,” CCTV continued.
“The draft law will be submitted to the National People’s
Congress by the end of the year,” said CCTV. “The draft must go
through the State Council and receive three readings from the
National Party Congress Standing Committee before being adopted as
law.”
Whether the draft law will address cruelties associated with
eating cats, dogs, and wildlife was not discussed in the
preliminary coverage, but twice in the first two weeks of August
police and other public officials in the Shanghai region reportedly
assisted rescuers who stopped trucks and saved allegedly stolen cats
from transport to live markets in Guangdong.
The Guangdong region, south of Shanghai, is the only part
of China where cats are commonly eaten, and as much as 80% of
Chinese dog and wildlife consumption also occurs there.
People 4 Chinese Animals issued a public thanks to five law
enforcement agencies for their assistance in arranging ransom for as
many as 2,000 cats.
Similar incidents, occurring in southern China for the past
two years, are believed to hint that the Beijing government is fed
up with the more notorious Guangdong practices. Beijing has also
repeatedly reinforced regulation of commerce in birds and reptiles,
conducted mainly in the south, and of live poultry markets,
implicated in frequent disease outbreaks during the past dozen years.
Frustrated Russian animal advocates could only envy the
Chinese progress. “Hopes that Russia might at long last pass an
animal protection law were dashed on June 5, 2009, Environmental
Protection Day,” VITA president Irina Novozhilova told ANIMAL
PEOPLE. “Animal welfare was supposed to be the theme of a conference
scheduled for that day at the State Duma [parliament] under the title
‘Humane attitudes to animals: a moral necessity for civil society,’
but on arrival animal activists were dumbfounded to read in the
official handout that [the participating elected officials] had
withdrawn demands for a comprehensive animal protection law, asking
merely that the government improve the existing legislation dating
from Soviet times.
“For more than a decade VITA in collaboration with other
Russian animal protection organisations has been battling for a
federal law to protect animals from cruel treatment,” Novozhilova
continued. “A draft law, the work of Tatyana Pavlova,” who died in
2007, “in the 1990s passed three readings in the Duma. There was
optimism that Presi-dent Boris Yeltsin would sign it into law early
in 2000. Unluckily for billions of animals, Yeltsin resigned, and
one of the first actions of his successor, Vladimir Putin, was to
send the draft law back for revision. The draft remained in limbo
until March 2008, when it was removed from the Duma’s legislative
agenda.”

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